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15 Princess Caribbean Princess Gay & Lesbian Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise from vacations to go for a last minute trip. The price was really great and the destination was northeast and Canada. Embarking was super but the room was disappointing. Not for location, but for cleanliness. The rug ... Read More
We chose this cruise from vacations to go for a last minute trip. The price was really great and the destination was northeast and Canada. Embarking was super but the room was disappointing. Not for location, but for cleanliness. The rug in the room was old, stained and dirty. We did not bring slippers because we called princess earlier and the rep said all we had to do was ask. Well that proved to be futile, I emailed Princess during the trip to complain and we finally got them day 3. Meanwhile, I had lined the floor with pool towels. Day 4 we asked for our room cleaned. The steward (who we pre tipped in cash although we did opt to pay gratuities) made up our bed in the same sheets, they were wrinkled with hair in them. The bathroom had hair, the sink wasn't cleaned and the rug had not been vacuumed. I know because we removed the pool towels prior and some cookie crumbs were on the rug. They were still there. The soap on the sink was mashed into the pre formed counter top. There were tea ring stains on the desk. etc. The ship ran out of smoked salmon day 5. Even though they were in nova scotia! The hash browns are GREASY!! There was no lactose free food in the buffet, everything except cold cuts had milk, cream, cheese and butter. No dairy free desserts except jello. Later on, while we were in the disco, an employee entered our room without permission with our privacy notice on the door to bring us chocolate strawberries that neither of us could eat. All of our personal items were out in the room, our handbags, our jewelry, my computer was up and running, they entered and violated our privacy. Princess has changed from our 2 previous cruises with them. Floor supervisor was nasty. When customer service called to ask why we were not happy. She said she was sorry we did not appreciate the gift of strawberries. They still don't get that it wasn't the strawberries we were mad at, it was the violation of privacy, oh and yes, the dirty room. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Everything was incredible!! They make you feel like family and you never want to leave the ship! The food was world class and the service on the ship was otherworldly, the drinks on board were incredible and allowed you to venture into a ... Read More
Everything was incredible!! They make you feel like family and you never want to leave the ship! The food was world class and the service on the ship was otherworldly, the drinks on board were incredible and allowed you to venture into a whole other culture and a whole other world of excitement! It is a wonderful mix of people and every passenger on board was so fun and excited and so sweet to everyone else. The stage shows that they put on our like a broadway musical and the performers can sing with the best of them! They have a full range of things for you to do whether it’s hanging by the 5 pools and jacuzzi’s they have, learning about the many secrets of pirate treasure, world class shopping with incredible deals, or anything else you can think of, there is never ever a dull moment. Everything was so smooth especially with their new medallion you use for everything!! It is the best thing out there!! 100% recommend!!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
they clean your room everyday, Varieties of food, Dining experience is really awesome. service is great, Ice cream bar was great, international cafe, Karaoke bar, fitness room, Art auction, love the idea of formal night and going to a fine ... Read More
they clean your room everyday, Varieties of food, Dining experience is really awesome. service is great, Ice cream bar was great, international cafe, Karaoke bar, fitness room, Art auction, love the idea of formal night and going to a fine dining after having pictures from the photographers and you will your pictures that same day...you can watch live shows everyday with their funny Cruise director & his staff, lots of entertainment and things to do, love all this fun games with the staff especially with the cruise director Matt, foods is great, enough restaurants to choose, great service, smooth sailing and they are organized, i will plan a next cruise this year again and i will convince some of my relatives and friends to join me and my wife for the next cruise before end of 2019, and hoping they will come out a promotion to back up my plan Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
The Bad : Ship shakes under sail and unbelievably worse in port, especially annoying when you are dining. Common areas good condition but we had hit and miss cabins this fall and winter, some ok and some awful condition. Ship staff said ... Read More
The Bad : Ship shakes under sail and unbelievably worse in port, especially annoying when you are dining. Common areas good condition but we had hit and miss cabins this fall and winter, some ok and some awful condition. Ship staff said they can’t update the rooms without a dry dock and the company keeps putting that off. Personally had and witnessed some negative interactions with the Guest Services Staff. As typical of the brand no built in activies for active adults and children. Just off a Christmas cruise on another ship of the brand, many families cruising and the young people were bored out of their minds. Royal Caribbean, Carnival or Norwegian would have been a better choice for a family vacation. The Good: The company has invested in Internet upgrades for this ship. Room and Dining staff generally excellent as is usual throughout the brand. Food quality and selection was on par with the brand and far superior to Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
This was my first cruise with Princess and as a result of my experience, it will definitely be my last. Prior to booking, I had this impression that Princess was an elite cruising brand. I expected more of them than I would a Carnival, ... Read More
This was my first cruise with Princess and as a result of my experience, it will definitely be my last. Prior to booking, I had this impression that Princess was an elite cruising brand. I expected more of them than I would a Carnival, Norwegian or Royal Caribbean cruise line. I could not have been more wrong. Let's start with the PROS since its a short list. PROS: Embarkation - Princess is very organized. I was on the ship in less than 20 minutes from my arrival to the pier. I have NEVER gotten on a ship that fast before. There was no haggling to buy onboard packages and no pressure to take pictures. It was the most quickest, easiest embarkation I have ever experienced. Shore Excursions - I really liked that while the Excursions desk was not always manned that they had iPads at the desk so I could book excursions during their non-operating hours. I struggled whether to add this to the CONS list really, because the Excursions desk was closed before and during our sail away period, but I do like that I had this as an option. I like to book my excursions as soon as I get on the ship. I later learned I could have booked them in my room via the TV. Entertainment - I really enjoyed some of the musical talent on this ship. I learned of some new artistic gems like George Thursting that I now follow through social media. Love them. Folks, that's where my PROS list ends. Let's dive into everything that made this cruise horrible and left me vowing to NEVER cruise with Princess again. CONS: Bed Bug (in Room B249) - I usually don't sleep much, if at all, the night before a cruise, because I am busy packing and getting my house (and life) prepared for my extensive departure, so I usually make up for that sleep the first night on the ship. This cruise was no exception. I grabbed a bite to eat and booked my excursions once I got on board and I headed straight to my room to snooze. After we set sailed, I got up to grab something out of my bag and when I returned to the bed I noticed what looked like a bed bug crawling over the duvet cover. I screamed! I ran outside where the cabin steward was. He came in looking embarrassed, but not surprised, and scooped the bug into a glass jar. I was mortified. All I could think was how grateful I was that I had not unpacked yet. I did NOT want to take any of these critters home with me. I hear bed bugs are horrible to get rid of. I went straight to the reception desk to report it. Its the first night, so there's a long line. I patiently wait. When I get to the line, the service desk rep (Ignacio and Aracelli) said there was not much they could do besides send someone to investigate and clean the room since the ship was sold out. They did not offer me some place to sit or rest at during this 2-hour investigation. They did not offer me a complimentary beverage or meal. They did not apologize for the inconvenience. They did nothing, but "investigate." I stood on the side of the reception desk for 2 hours exhausted. I finally got back in line to see if there was an update, since NO ONE spoke to me during those 2 hours and only after I got back in line did someone call to check on the "investigation" and that's when I was told they were done and they did not find anything else (meaning another bug). For all I know, the investigation could have been completed an hour earlier. I return to my room alone. Visibly shaken, they did not offer to escort me to my room to reassure me and show me their findings. No one was there when I arrived. It was hours later when the cabin steward supervisor and my cabin steward returned to tell me the supervisor found nothing. I asked if I would be able to get checked by medical - something the front desk rep said I would be able to get as a courtesy to check for bed bug bites - and the supervisor told me NO. He said the ship doctor is not like a doctor on land, they're expensive, so I would have to pay for this myself. Um... OK! I was done after this. Done. He treated me like I was an inconvenience. Very hostile. I never unpacked my bag. I kept it closed the entire cruise and I checked my room for bed bugs each and every day. I tried not to let this ruin my trip cuz then I would definitely be on the losing end. I tried to make the best of it. Ship - Its old. Real old. Very dated. There's rust, mildew and mold everywhere. While I stood in line at the guest desk, I noticed there were multiple leaks from the ceiling. Also, the layout makes no sense. They give each deck a name. For example: Deck # 11 is named Baja and Deck # 15 is named Lido. Instead of referring to the deck number, you had to learn the deck names, because that is how they were referenced. It was so cooky. Then there were only so many elevator banks. I believe there were three or four for the entire ship and one or two of those only went to a few floors. There were no machines for people to add money to their room card/key. Everything went through the very incompetent guest desk. And they had to escalate everything. No one at the desk could make a decision at their level. No one was empowered to just do common sense things for guests. While I waited for my bed bug investigation, I heard a man with Platinum Level Status get upset over his beverage package and how someone screwed it up. I stood there thinking: If this guy is a loyal Princess cruiser and they treat him like that, how should I expect them to treat me? Not good, folks. Not good. Dining - I actually like the seating in the buffet dining areas. I liked that there were pub seating that looked directly out the window, so if you're a party of one you're only taking one seat and not an entire table. That's where my likes end. The food options were very limited and buffet small. It was about one-third of the size of the buffet area on the average Norwegian ship. Horrible! I made due, but I was just shocked. In Conclusion: The pros definitely did not outweigh the cons. I cannot justify the cost of the average Princess cruise for me to try the brand again. Outside of wanting to experience the Princess brand, I really chose this sailing because it was going to the ABC islands and it was full of smart at sea days. Heed my warnings. If nothing else, stay away from this ship unless you've cruised it before and know what to expect. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
The Caribbean Princess is not the prettiest girl at the dance anymore. She is looking tired and worn and is need of a face lift. Staterooms very dated and the bathrooms seemed small compared to other Princess ships. The crew was great, ... Read More
The Caribbean Princess is not the prettiest girl at the dance anymore. She is looking tired and worn and is need of a face lift. Staterooms very dated and the bathrooms seemed small compared to other Princess ships. The crew was great, friendly, and helpful. The food was inconsistent - one night great, the next awful. The chef must have taken Thursday night off...the food that night was not good at all. The buffet had little variation from day to day. My only complaint with the staff...enforce the no smoking rules throughout the ship. Too much smoking happening in the cabins and on balconies. The comedian gave a great show. The southern Caribbean is not the most exciting place to cruise. Not much happening in the ABC islands. Maybe we have been on too many cruises to appreciate the uniqueness of those three islands. Four days at sea may be a bit much for some newbie cruisers, but we liked those four lazy days at sea. It was a pleasurable and relaxing 8 days. I would have given the cruise at least a 4 but could not due to the dilapidated rooms and other ship venues. This old ship is slated for her face lift in the spring of 2017 according to the crew on board. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
I have just returned from a 14 night trip with my partner and in-laws and the Caribbean princess did not disappoint! There was only 1 let down which was with the embarkation process which I believe was the fault of the Southampton port ... Read More
I have just returned from a 14 night trip with my partner and in-laws and the Caribbean princess did not disappoint! There was only 1 let down which was with the embarkation process which I believe was the fault of the Southampton port authorities. On arrival to our state room we were promptly greeted by Dennis our steward who greeted us by name and was most accommodating when we requested additional hangers etc., all through the cruise he was on hand to help with anything we needed, he is a great asset to Princess. The food on-board was as always of great quality and the selection was always vast. the only downside is the rigmorall of "hunt the table" at peak times in the buffet areas. There was plenty of entertainment on-board suitable for all interests, Matt O'Brien (AKA Matt 32 from England) was by far the hardest working member of the entertainments team, he was always on good form and hilarious. I took the all inclusive soda package which was a huge asset, as I don't really drink alcohol I was able to have unlimited Mock tails and hot chocolates etc. and at only $7 per day it really is worth it considering that each mock tail is $5 a time. 95% of staff were always friendly and helpful, the ship was in good order throughout although this time there did seem to be more issues with the toilets in public areas being out of order. The med cruise itinerary was perfect for us as it included many stops that we had not visited, I would however recommend you look into arranging your own shore tours as the Princess prices are really high and the tours seem to be highly subscribed. this particular cruise was mostly Brits in their 60's + however us only being in our early 30's was not a problem (you just have to be a little more patient when following them down corridors etc :)) Overall, I can 100% say that Princess Cruises are onto a winner with the formula they are following and long may it continue! Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We actually flew in the previous night to Houston, late; all went very smoothly getting on the ship the next morning, light drizzle... Our cabin facilities were outstanding, and the surprise gift was there with beautiful tropical ... Read More
We actually flew in the previous night to Houston, late; all went very smoothly getting on the ship the next morning, light drizzle... Our cabin facilities were outstanding, and the surprise gift was there with beautiful tropical flowers from my husband with our surprise breakfast the next morning when we were underway with a full wait staff to our cabin on the balcony! Food delivered was fresh, hot, and delicious as well as the service! Throughout our voyage facilities on the ship were like no other we'd been on. Clean, respectful service, and once in a great while a waiter would ask us if we wanted a coctail on deck, but not pestered every 5 minutes!!! We are a gay couple of 12 years now, and felt respected, and no discrimination whatsoever, myself I am 56 now, and Rich is 57, and we love cruises, have never really had a bad experience, also there were a group of Bears aboard we befriended, and hung out with on occasion...; except.....When we were scheduled for Belize POC, we teathered for awhile; but the weather was to bad to stay, so we were redirected to Costa Mya(exuse spelling) but it was a nice little short 5 hr stop before we headed to Cozumel, with a day at sea, we still had a wonderful time in Costa Mya, rented a funky little car and drove all over the area, went swimming in a small village with the locals, and had some of the best grilled fish tacos I think I ever had! All other POC's were great, and ship's crew and captain took our safety first in concern about the weather. We would recomend Princess Cruises to everyone looking for an outstanding cruise experience. Our next cruise is coming up Dec 18th 2016 Carribean once again... Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Room a little cramped for 3 uncommitted people. Balcony railings and partitions were never wiped off, they were down right dirty. For a 4 day trip to the Bahamas, we had cold temperatures and rain for 3 1/2 days. The only sun was on the ... Read More
Room a little cramped for 3 uncommitted people. Balcony railings and partitions were never wiped off, they were down right dirty. For a 4 day trip to the Bahamas, we had cold temperatures and rain for 3 1/2 days. The only sun was on the ship at sea on the way back to port. I know it wasn't the ships "fault", but it was a lousy cruise. There was hardly any entertainment in regards to games, contests, and other deck parties. Again the Weathers fault. I got motion sickness on the way home. At this point, all I wanted to do was get home. Ship looked it's age, rust noticeable. Staff was fine. Room Steward, couldn't seem to keep inc in my room. Never responded to pages sent to her. She didn't deserve her tip. Food was good, not GREAT, but good. Best part of the cruise was the entertainment and joy the two bartenders (Christopher and Wilson) in Crooners bar gave us.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
My mom and I went on the 7 day cruise with 4 Ports (more later) We stayed in a hotel close by with transportation to the port which was very convenient. We had an amazing lobster dinner that night at the Ruskin Inn (highly recommend ... Read More
My mom and I went on the 7 day cruise with 4 Ports (more later) We stayed in a hotel close by with transportation to the port which was very convenient. We had an amazing lobster dinner that night at the Ruskin Inn (highly recommend great value). The next morning we had a nice leisurely light breakfast at our Hotel the Fairfield Inn who also provided transportation to the port (very organized) Once we arrived at the port we stood in line for about 20 minutes but it went rather quick. Our cabin was ready once we boarded so we were excited to check it out and put away our carryon's. We loved our cabin mainly because of the nice large balcony, aft location and walk in closet! (C752). Buffet was complete with a great selection so you had your choice of pretty much anything you wanted to eat. Very well organized and service was fantastic, as the wait staff anticipated all your possible needs. We enjoyed our assigned dining experience as we enjoyed visiting with a very nice family who ate with us. We also enjoyed getting to know our Maître d' and the staff and they even got to know our tastes offering some fabulous recommendations! I think my mom had a secret crush on him. We also loved the serenades during dinner from our consummate host Hector, truly loved our dining experiences every night food and entertainment was tops! Our first port was Princess Cays and we signed up for the tour of the Island and Colleen was a very informative, kind tour guide. We enjoyed many stops including a beautiful church on the beach in Eluethera. We fed the fish at the Ocean Hole at Rock Sound. Our final stop was for lunch on the beach and was good. My mom enjoyed dancing the Junkanoo with the locals right on the white sand beach and beautiful blue waters. It was an absolutely wonderful excursion and well worth the money. We lunched at Vines where they had some delicious sushi & tapas and wine tasting. The service here was a bit slow but we're on vacation so no worries! Enjoyed the entertainment on the ship too especially the Piazza flamenco Express!! We tried out the casino and had some fun but didn't have much luck winning any jackpots! We loved the Champagne waterfalls and all the festivities in the Piazza! We thoroughly enjoyed relaxing in the Sanctuary on at sea days. We didn't leave the ship at Ochos Rios but went on an amazing excursion at Grand Cayman Islands! Our guide Native Way Watersports (booked through cruise) was by far one of the top highlights of our trip. We went snorkeling, swam and held stingrays, shopping, lunch and even got our hair braided. Very well ran tour with a small group from our cruise. Highly recommend this tour guide. Really enjoyed formal nights on the cruise, great opportunity to get dressed up!! Princess does a great job of making it a very special evening with a 6 course lobster dinner and all the best entertainment! Our last port was Cozumel and we booked the VIP Dolphin Encounter at Chankanaab which was very exciting once we were in the water. There's a lot of waiting around with this tour (2 hours) We were in the water for about and hour and got to interact with the Dolphins which made all the waiting well worth it. It was truly a magical experience learning how to interact with the Dolphins!! My mom is not a swimmer and they made sure she felt comfortable and helped her with the push, boogie board, etc..(They said she was the oldest participant so far at 78, lol) We both loved it!! We had a great lunch after at the venue La Laguna and took a taxi back to port to board the ship. easy peasy! We also did a lot of shopping here, great bargains to be found I can't say enough about how much we enjoyed Princess, if you want to relax, enjoy new sites, great food and impeccable service Princess is for you! Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
This was our first cruise with Princess and we were very impressed with the Caribbean Princess which to date is the largest ship we've sailed. We had an aft mini suite which was well laid out and very comfortable, the bed was ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Princess and we were very impressed with the Caribbean Princess which to date is the largest ship we've sailed. We had an aft mini suite which was well laid out and very comfortable, the bed was comfortable although I don't believe it was pillow top. The balcony was extra large and open to the sky which we liked. We had many a breakfast out there and didn't really concern ourselves being viewed from above. The service from all the crew was excellent, we never noticed any frowns and everyone made a point of greeting us and making eye contact. As an example, our room steward offered the free glass of champagne that comes with the minisuite however we declined it since we don't like champagne. After the muster drill we came back to a tray of chips and salsa, this was an example of the proactive customer service we had all week. We selected anytime dining, usually around 630P and never had a problem getting a table for two. The food was good to great and portions ample for us in the Island dining room and like all dining rooms the service was good but rushed. The speciality restuarants were great to excellent and the service more subdued. Always got a sun chair, usually near the rear where we like to be. Now what we didn't like about the ship, at least one or two elevators were always out of service which made the wait times unusually long. Our two stops were Curacao and Aruba where we booked a tour on each island. The Curacao tour was canceled but we weren't notified of it and by the time we discovered any other option was full. Princess needs to improve their communication. As it were, we were an hour late arriving at that stop anyway because the capitan had to slow down to avoid over heating the engines, apparently sea water is used to cool them and the water temp was too high. I like to prebook the speciality restaurants but one can't do that on Princess. You have to run to each one upon embarkation and book your reservation and no, the "dining line" is not open. Casino way too small and smokey and you have to go though the casino to get to the theatre.Getting on the ship took an hour as we zig zaged our way though security up to the check in point however once checked in we went directly to our cabin. Disembarkation was faster, out of the cabin at 830A, breakfast and then off when our color was called. We went though immigration quickly and then waited in the taxi line for 45 minutes. We arrive that Ft Lauderdale airport more than 4 hours before our flight so we had to wait, along with 20,000 person or so it seems. A total of 7 ships had docked on 11/17 and most of the passengers I'm sure were at the airport. There was no where to sit, get bite of food or drink, people were sitting on the floors, chairs, outside anywhere they could find some space. We thought it would be better once though security, nope same situation. Ft Lauderdale airport is way too small to handle the crowds on the weekends. While we definitely Will consider Princess again for future trips, we will hesitate going though that port! Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
We cruised on the Caribbean Princess November 10-17, 2012, and celebrated our first wedding anniversary on the second day of the cruise (we married on 11-11-11). For background, we are both 37 years old, and have previously sailed on ... Read More
We cruised on the Caribbean Princess November 10-17, 2012, and celebrated our first wedding anniversary on the second day of the cruise (we married on 11-11-11). For background, we are both 37 years old, and have previously sailed on Carnival Imagination and Celebrity Solstice. I'll probably end up making comparisons to the Solstice since I think they're on the same level of service etc. Carnival was a fun four days, but the ship just can't compare, and it wouldn't be fair to compare the two! We did a pre-cruise stay the night before at the Embassy Suites in 17th St. in Ft. Lauderdale, using Hilton points. We asked for a room facing the port and were told if we were willing to wait for one, we could have one that was being cleaned, so we went to lunch next door, picked up supplies (wine!) and Publix, and checked into our room on the 9th floor. It was perfect the next morning, I opened the curtains and the Caribbean Princess was staring right back at me! We were going to take a taxi to the port, but there was a shuttle for hire leaving right away for $7 per person, so we took that, and were the first ones dropped off. We did take a taxi from the ship to the airport at the end of the cruise, and the fare was a little over $12 (both prices are before tip). We stayed in a Suite, so this experience comes from the viewpoint of having received those perks. We stayed in the Nevis Suite, C748 on the Caribe Deck, facing aft. I think it's safe to say I'm spoiled now. Embarkation Since I wanted to get into The Sanctuary, I went to the terminal early (around 10:45). If I was doing regular embarkation, I would definitely be posting a different embarkation experience, because the line for regular passengers snaked the entire length of the outside of the building. Thankfully, we had preferred embarkation, which had ZERO line, and went right on in! One note, there were no porters outside when we got in line, so I ended up carrying my large suitcase throughout the entire embarkation process. It meant that we got to unpack right away (nice!), but I couldn't figure out why there was no one to take the bags when they had the large metal luggage racks all set up and waiting. We had a delayed sailaway, the captain said, due to an issue with baggage handling, maybe the lack of porters at the beginning was a sign of that? We only had one person in front of us getting their cruise card, and quickly checked in and sat in the suite/elite area. Again, the process for non-preferred people seemed to be going slower. When it came time to go upstairs to get the welcome aboard photo taken and get on the ship, even though I'm not elite and should have gone after them with the rest of the suite people, I ended up being probably one of the first 10 or 15 people on the ship because I kept chatting with the security people (what else is there to do in that terminal?) and when they opened the doors, they motioned to me to go through with the others. I wasn't about to protest that!). The downside to having no porters came when I got on the ship, because I was determined to get a pair of loungers in the sanctuary, so once we got off the elevators on the Lido deck, I sprinted carrying my suitcase to the sanctuary. I'm sure it looked hilarious! Anyway, except for a couple who were on a back-to-back, I was the first new passenger up there and had my pick of loungers. They did eventually sell out for the week. Overall Ship Condition I have read others comments about the CB being thread-bare, and did not find that to be the case at all. I found one or two rust spots on the ship, but that was about it, and on Friday they were painting on the upper decks. While the furnishings on the ship didn't look brand-spanking-new, they looked in good condition to me. Carpets were clean, etc. Overall I thought the ship was in very good condition. Stateroom We were in an Aft Suite, and I think I'll never go back! C 748 had its own little vestibule area before the actual doorway, I should have taken a photo of it but didn't think to. When the outer door was shut, you wouldn't know there was a guest room back there because the outer door blends in with the wall (except for the handle), but the door to the actual room was just like all the other doors. The suite had a sofa bed and sitting area, wet bar, walk-in closet, jetted tub and separate shower in its own room, and a toilet and sink in its own room. There were two flat screen TVs. I was ECSTATIC that they played reruns of The Love Boat on Channel 24, and probably watched more episodes than is healthy LOL. The Balcony was gigantic! We had the balcony next to The Dreaded Vent. Yes, there is noise from the vent, but it wasn't noticeably louder than any other random ship noise you hear outside. And when the ship was moving, the sound of the wake drowned it out. As the The Dreaded Smell from The Dreaded Vent, it was there, though I imagined it being much worse. When the ship was moving, you couldn't smell it, but when we were still, you could. Of course, I leaned over the railing and stuck my head around the divider to check out the vent, and the smell when you're directly facing the vent is much worse LOL. The smell (kind of like a kitchen smell) would NOT stop us from booking this room again. Ultimate Balcony Dining We did Utimate Balcony Dining for our anniversary. It was worth the cost. We had two waiters serving us all night! There were a couple of hiccups, but nothing that ruined the experience. The photographer showed up right on time, but the dinner was nowhere to be found. It came about 15 minutes late, the photographer felt really bad, and he's just standing there. We finally forced him to sit down and enjoy a cocktail and some appetizers with us. I'm sure they tell them not to do this with guests because he was really hesitant, but we insisted, and he seemed grateful to get to relax for a bit. Also, when we went to get our free photo, they couldn't find any files from our dinner, and we ended up not getting it until the last night of the cruise. I'm glad they finally found them! Maybe giving the photographer a drink wasn't such a good idea after all LOL. The waiters were very happy to have a large balcony to maneuver on. They said sometimes it can be hard setting up and serving the dinner, but our balcony did NOT have any space issues! Impression of the Ship vs. Solstice The ship was a huge step up from the Carnival Imagination. We tried comparing it to the Solstice, but found it hard to compare. The decor on both could be described as upscale, but the colors and woods on the CB were more warm and inviting, whereas on the solstice they had a cooler, contemporary feel. One isn't necessarily better than the other, we enjoyed both. We were in Aqua Class on Celebrity and missed having that smaller specialty restaurant every night, but the food quality on Princess was comparable. One difference where Celebrity excelled is in wine glasses. No matter what kind of wine we ordered on Princess, it was served in the same generic wine glass. On Celebrity, they used the glass appropriate for the wine. In fact, on Celebrity they offer a class on how wine from the right kind of glass makes a big difference in the taste. Of course, I'm not a wine snob and the wine was still good, but it was a nice touch from the Solstice that I missed. Suite Perks As previously discussed, the embarkation was expedited, and you are also given an enhanced breakfast room service menu door tag. In addition to that, you can order anything off the main dining room menus for breakfast lunch and dinner. We always ordered at least coffee from room service every morning, and instead of choosing the 30 minute time window, I always wrote a specific time down, and they always came at exactly that time. Also, MUCH appreciated was the fact that suites can order room service on the morning of disembarkation, whereas other rooms cannot. I booked after they did away with free internet for suites, but I turn off all my devices on a ship anyway so I didn't miss it. Breakfast in Sabatinis was wonderful! The first morning they checked your cabin number, but after that they knew you. We did Sabatinis the first night as part of the suite perk, and it was great. The only issue we had was the suite perk gave us our first night in Sabatinis for free, but because we paid for the cruise with our Platinum American Express card, Amex also gives you first night in a specialty restaurant for free, but we weren't able to move that to a different night because those perks overlapped. It didn't stop us from booking the crown grill for another night, but it would have been nice to have that bonus. Amex also gave us a $300 stateroom credit, so I shouldn't complain too much! We took advantage of the free laundry twice. And even though the regular service says "give it to us by 9am, have it back at 6pm the following night," both times we had our laundry bag out for our steward to get during the nightly turndown, and it was back the following afternoon. That may or may not have been because we left a nice tip with each bag of laundry, but in any case it always came back faster than expected. The free bar setup included vodka, gin, whiskey, and scotch. It also had cans of coke, bottles of spring water, bottles of perrier, beer, and tonic water. Ports Our excursion (the cooking one) in Curacao was canceled because the tour operator went out of business unexpectedly, so we just walked around and had a drink at a restaurant. Very colorful and fun port! The other excursions we would have been interested in were already sold out, but in the future if we come back we hope to do something more here. We ended up coming into port over an hour late because there were some thruster problems left over from when gunk got into the engines when the ship was dealing with Hurricane Sandy, so some other tours got canceled as well because of time constraints. We docked at the mega pier, and it was a short walk to the swinging bridge. No taxis necessary. In Aruba we did the SeaTrek adventure on DePalma Island and had a blast! If we come back we'll probably choose an excursion that shows us more of the island, but we had a lot of fun doing what we did! We did not do any excursions in Princess Cays, but friends of ours had a cabana so we hung out there. We were the first ship there after Sandy, and the island looked to be in decent shape. There was no feeling that our stop there was somehow less than it could have been before Sandy. All the buildings were in good repair (except the observation pier). Ultimate Ship Tour I signed up for the ultimate ship tour, which was on Thursday morning (first of the two consecutive sea days on the way home). I was the first one to sign up for the tour when we embarked (they couldn't even find the list yet at passenger services!). I was afraid of the tour selling out, but there were only 7 of us (an eighth had to cancel). The tour is pricy, but worth it (I wouldn't do it every cruise, especially on the same class ship, but would be interested to see behind the scenes on other class ships, or the new Royal when it comes out!). We saw the infirmary, the theater, the mooring station (I think that's where they call where they store the ropes and the anchors), the engine control room, print shop, kitchen, photo lab, food storage rooms, we went up inside the funnel (the assistant CD was our guide, he said in his experience they don't normally take people as far up in the funnel as we went, maybe because we were a smaller group?), the laundry area, and the bridge. I think those were all the places. It was amazing seeing how hard everyone works! I think before anyone is allowed to removed auto tips, they should be required to go on this tour, and they would never remove a tip again. What was also amazing was how it seemed the workers were so proud of the jobs they did. The workers in the laundry area, their eyes lit up and they were so excited to show us how they folded all the sheets and towels. The butchers were all excited to show how the chop up the meat, etc. I really came away with a sense that the workers were proud of their job, and I only wish more people could see what goes on behind the scenes to make our vacations so special. One change from what I've read about previous ultimate ship tours, they no longer give out a chefs jacket, which I suppose is good because who wears one of those at home cooking? Instead, they give you a princess apron. You still get a bathrobe, some goodies from the kitchen, and a big pad of personalized stationery from the print shop, as well as group photos from the mooring station, backstage in the theater, engine control room, funnel, and bridge. The tour info said it would last three hours, it ended up being almost four hours, but totally worth it! The captain spent a LOT of time with us on the bridge explaining things and answering all of our questions. It was a great overall experience! The Sanctuary THE SANCTUARY IS HORRIBLE! DON'T SPEND A DIME ON IT! IT'S NOT WORTH IT!!!! STAY AWAY!!! At least that's what I'm trying to tell everyone so I don't have to worry about getting a spot in there. Please don't let out the secret! We spent SO MUCH time in the Sanctuary, it was well worth the price of a week pass. The attendants will cater to your every need! They have complimentary citrus water whenever you want it, and serve you high tea in the afternoon. They would bring me diet cokes all day long with my soda sticker. It was so quiet and peaceful up there! And right next to the adult only pool that I think, until the last day or two, other people thought was a sanctuary only pool, because no one was in it until the last sea day! Each day we would leave our chairs at lunch to go down, get some food (pizza, burgers) and bring it back up to eat in the sanctuary, and our attendants (Nely and Putri) would say "why don't you let me get that for you!" I know some things would have delivery charge, but they said they would get us anything and not to worry about that. I felt bad though, and never had them bring me food ( drinks, on the other hand.....) I guess one example of the service in the Sanctuary was after I had been walking around on Princess Cays and had a small blister on my pinky toe that was rubbing against my sandal, so I asked if they had a Band-Aid I could put on my toe. All of a sudden two or three attendants are at my side wanting to help me, whipping out all sorts of band-aids, and they would not hear of letting me put it on myself, they insisted on taking care of it! I felt bad because my feet were dirty, but they were intent on taking care of me. I thought that was above and beyond. Miscellaneous -While there were chair hogs, at least on the upper decks when I was walking around, I always saw a bunch of empty loungers -There were VERY few children on board - I didn't go to any of the shows so I can't comment on them - The suite/elite disembarkation lounge in Club Fusion was a nice touch. OH, speaking of that. I was concerned that I saw other cabins getting their luggage tags but we didn't get ours. It wasn't until later that I found out because we were in a suite, they would ask us when we wanted to get off the ship, and would then give us those luggage tags that met OUR needs. - Also, we didn't go to the elite lounge before dinner until maybe the third night. How dumb are we. I didn't know there were drink specials up there! From then on it became a top priority LOL. - Princess Pizza is hands down the best cruise ship pizza out there. No comparison. - We had a Cruise Critic meet & greet with about 20 people there. A bunch of officers and staff were invited, but only one showed up... the Captain! That was pretty sweet to have the Captain of the ship come talk to us for a half hour or so! So I ended up getting to meet him twice: at the meet & greet and on the ultimate ship tour. Getting to put faces with cruise critic names was great! Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
I'll try to use the same format that I found helpful in other reviews, and break things down by section: PRE-EMBARKATION: We flew into San Juan the day before our cruise left, and were glad for it. Our hotel was the El San ... Read More
I'll try to use the same format that I found helpful in other reviews, and break things down by section: PRE-EMBARKATION: We flew into San Juan the day before our cruise left, and were glad for it. Our hotel was the El San Juan, which is a Waldorf-Astoria Property (Hilton Hotels). The lobby was grand, and the pools were nice. They also have a private beach, which seemed to be a theme with most of the hotels in San Juan. However, the room was run-down and most of the white furniture looked used and dirty. We probably wouldn't stay there again. EMBARKATION: Spent the morning at the pool and had a leisurely breakfast. Picked up supplies (sunscreen, aspirin, etc) at Walgreens. We headed for the cruise docks at around 3pm. There is a very nice duty-free liquor store inside the building, once you've turned in your checked bags and have put your carry-on bag through the X-ray scanner. BUY YOUR LIQUOR THERE. The prices were excellent, and you can put things in your carry-on to bring on board. We bought a bottle of wine, one bottle of champagne and a 1L bottle of vodka. The vodka went in the carry-on; the others we put in the store's bag. Check in was very easy. The whole process only took 15 minutes. We were on the ship by 4pm, which included 45 minutes spent in the duty-free store. They did ask about liquor as soon as we boarded, but they only checked the plastic store bag, and were fine with us having the wine and champagne. I bought my Coca-Cola sticker as soon as we boarded (there were tables everywhere on the ship) and my partner bought his coffee card. We later found 2 coupon books in our room (FYI - we found out not everyone gets them), and it had a Buy 1-Get 1 coupon for coffee cards. We went down to the International Cafe on Deck 5, gave them the coupon, and they gave us a 2nd coffee card! That was a $27 savings right off the bat. We went to the buffet that evening (it ranged from good that night to just OK on other days). Oddly, they had lobster claws on the buffet that first night, but they had no tongs to help you crack them open. I asked a waiter for some, and they said they didn't have any. I had to wrap the claws in my cloth napkin and smash them with my hand. I saw several other people doing the same thing -- Princess needs to get a clue and just provide the necessary tools to eat lobster. The sail away party was fun and we had a good time being out on the Lido Deck for the music and the treasure hunt giveaway. SAILING: I'll review the ports separately below. DINING: We had Anytime Dining and ate in the main dining room every night except the very first one. Overall the food was very good, with a couple of little exceptions. I had veal the 3rd night, and it was very chewy. Another night I had the Orange Roughy fish with lobster sauce. It tasted so fishy it was almost inedible. I will say that the desserts were outstanding! The Limoncello Sorbet and the Strawberry/Lemon Sorbet were some of the best I've ever had. My partner had the New York Cheesecake one night which was also excellent. The Pasta e Fagioli soup on Italian night was memorable, as was the Veal Ravioli on the 5th night (not sure why the just plain veal wasn't good -- who knows?). We learned to order extra of what we liked and to try something else if we didn't like what we got the first time. Most nights we also ordered a small side of Fettuccine Alfredo (excellent pasta!) to share, and they happily brought a small bowl of it out for us. Another word to the wise -- have the ESCARGOT on night 6! It was one of the best things I ate the entire trip! It will not be on the menu -- the waiter tells you about it at the start of dinner and you have to remember to order it. As for Anytime Dining, we loved it. The first night we opted to eat with others, which was very interesting. There were 2 other couples at our table, one middle-aged and one older. The middle-aged wife and the older husband got in a debate over a conversation topic, and the older couple left very abruptly after dessert. We asked for a table for 2 every night after that. Despite the often huffy attitude of the Maitre D' in the Island Dining Room (Deck 5), he gave us our table quickly every night. Only one time did we get a "beeper" and were asked to wait 10 minutes for a table. Our other favorite dining tip is to use the International Cafe on Deck 5. We went there every single day, and often it was virtually empty at 9 or 10am. They have lots of good things in the display case (pastry, muffins, quiche, etc) and it's all included. It changes from breakfast items to lunch/snack items later on, which are also excellent. I ate several of the mozzarella & prosciutto paninis for a quick afternoon snack after coming back from an excursion. And the pizza on Deck 15 by the pool is every bit as good as everyone else says it is. We had some at least every other day. ENTERTAINMENT: We only went to one production show, "Caribbean Caliente". Great dancers, pretty excellent singers, but yet it was very cheesy for our taste. Everyone said the hypnotist was great too, but we missed him. He gave a 2nd show late in the week that was in Spanish. The first night we caught The Juan Carlos Show in Explorer's Lounge (Deck 7), which was fun, though he told most of his jokes in Spanish, so they were lost on us. We met other gay couples on board and ended up making some good friends. Our favorite thing to do was to meet up after dinner for drinks either in the Wheelhouse Bar or Skywalkers. Both always had plenty of space available, though the music in Skywalkers can be very loud and you really feel the ship bobbing up and down from there. The ship did host 2 GLBT get-togethers, one on the 2nd night and the other on the 4th night. Paul, an Associate Cruise Director, was our host both times. He provided free champagne the first time, and we got to meet some nice people, including one couple that ended up being part of our social circle for the rest of the cruise. STATEROOM: We had a balcony room on Deck 14 (Riviera). It was terrific! LOVED having the balcony for evening sailaways and for just sitting out there to have coffee and pastry in the morning. We both highly recommend getting a balcony if you're thinking about it. Also, Deck 14 was the near perfect location. While Caribe Deck (Deck 10) has the biggest balconies besides suite rooms, you can look down at everyone else and see what they're doing. The Lido Deck (Deck 15) hangs all the way out over Deck 14, so we had complete privacy from above. The bathroom was very small, but perfectly adequate. I'm 6'1 and I fit in the shower just fine -- no complaints. There was also more than enough closet space. In fact, there was much more than we were expecting. Our room steward was Bryan from the Phillipines. He was nice, but quite shy. We also thought he was a bit thrown by our request the first day to have the beds pushed together. However, by the end of the cruise he would chat with us in the hallway and he always said hello and goodbye when we saw him. He did a great job keeping the room neat and tidy all throughout the day. CASINO: I was there almost every night. My partner only spent about a total of 15 minutes in there as he is not a gambler. I had fun, but beware, the odds are even tougher than a normal casino. If you like Blackjack, be careful of the "Fun 21" table. The rules seem very liberal, but they take all of the queens out of the decks, leaving far less 10's than a usual 8-deck Blackjack game. This means the dealer frequently does not go bust, meaning you lose a lot more hands. Some guy did win $60,000 at Caribbean Stud Poker during our cruise by hitting a Royal Flush. Bottom line -- you CAN win on the ship, but you probably won't. DISEMBARKATION: Very smooth and well organized. We put our big bags out the night before, and the morning of disembarkation, we went to the Int'l Cafe for breakfast. Got our food and waited at our assigned exit lounge. They called our group about 5 or 10 minutes after the scheduled time, and we walked off. They had the luggage in a large building that was grouped by your tag color. We had our bags in under 5 minutes and customs was a breeze. Princess did a great job with this part. SUMMARY: Our overall impression was a very good one for this being my first cruise. The food gets high marks for most nights (although the buffet was never "great", usually just "good" or "average"). Sometimes the dining room staff was a bit cold, especially the Maitre D' in the Island Dining Room. The casino dealers were very friendly and knew my name within a day or two. Our steward was good, and the bartenders and roaming waiters around the ship were great -- particularly in the Piazza on Deck 5. We had no trouble finding people our own age to hang out with, and the ship never felt crowded until the very last day, which we spent at sea. I would recommend Princess to my friends. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
My partner and I (34 and 31, respectively) were on the Caribbean Princess for the Southern Caribbean Explore roundtrip voyage departing from San Juan, Puerto Rico on February 14, 2010, with stops in St. Thomas, Dominica, Grenada, Bonaire, ... Read More
My partner and I (34 and 31, respectively) were on the Caribbean Princess for the Southern Caribbean Explore roundtrip voyage departing from San Juan, Puerto Rico on February 14, 2010, with stops in St. Thomas, Dominica, Grenada, Bonaire, Aruba followed by a day at sea before returning to San Juan on the morning of February 21. It was my better half's second cruise, and my first, so this cruise report is certainly a deeper look at the trip and cruise experience from a beginner's perspective. Embarkation: Embarkation for the Caribbean Princess was smooth and effortless - we had arrived the previous day and spent the night in San Juan at the Caribe Hilton to avoid winter weather delays that snarled much of the country and showed up at the Pan Am Pier terminal shortly after 2 pm. Once we figured out where we needed to drop off our bags and enter the terminal, we didn't encounter any lines and breezed through check-in and were on the ship quickly. Once on board (through deck 7), we made our way to our cabin on the Emerald deck (deck 8). The only hitch was that we had no idea which pier to go to in order to board the ship (Pan Am piers or Old San Juan) - thanks to CruiseCritic we learned the correct pier, and a quick call to the Princess 800 number confirmed it. Also, the cabs were more costly than we had anticipated - a cab from the airport to the hotel was about $26, and so was a cab for the very short ride from the hotel to the ship. Cabin: Despite my desire for a balcony cabin, my partner talked me out of it to take advantage of a great last minute deal on a guaranteed oceanview room. About a week before the cruise we were assigned Room E622 on the port side of the Emerald Deck (deck 8). It was an obstructed oceanview, with one of the larger tenders in front of the window. While it was indeed obstructed, you could still see through the tender and to the side. Having the natural light helped our internal clocks, and I understand other cabins in the same category with the smaller life boats facing them actually had direct views. I have to say, the room was really nice and much larger than I expected. On entering, there is a short hallway to the bedroom area, much like a hotel, with the bathroom tucked away on the left and an open closet area with a shelf bureau and safe at the end. We didn't pack light - three suitcases, a suit bag, two carry-ons and snorkel equipment for two - but storage was absolutely no problem. The bathroom has a smart layout and we had plenty of space for our toiletries. A lot of people have complained about the "clingy" shower curtain, and I am sure the sliding plexiglass shower doors are nicer, but it was never an issue for us. There is one standard outlet (two prong) in the bathroom. Forward of the bathroom and closet space is the ensuite room. The two twins pushed together to make a very spacious and comfortable queen bed with four pillows (we requested extra pillows without a problem). There is a desk/vanity with a hair dryer attached to the wall, phone, and two three-prong plugs. I had read here on Cruise Critic to bring an alarm clock and power bar for extra plugs, and I am glad I did for the two cameras, iPods, laptop, cellphones, etc. If you forget an alarm clock, there is an automated wake-up service through the in-room phone. There are also plenty of mirrors, which make the room feel bigger. The room also had a flat screen TV, with movies, cable programs, ship's bridge camera, bridge station to track movement and speed, even old episodes of the Love Boat (which, admittedly, were neat to watch at night onboard). There was also a chair, small side table, and refrigerator stocked with a bucket of ice and sodas (there is a charge if you drink the sodas). Even so, the fridge easily accommodated two bottles of bubbly we brought aboard - which, is the limit per person to bring aboard. Any liquor is "secured" out of your possession until the end of the cruise when it is returned to you. After checking out the room and ship related reading materials inside, we were pleasantly surprised to find all but one of our pieces of luggage already outside of our door. The last piece was delivered shortly after we left the room to explore the ship and was waiting in the room when we returned. Overall we were extremely pleased with the room -- it was very quiet, right across from the laundry if you needed to iron a few wrinkles out of a shirt, and it's location not far from the elevator or a short walk up the hall to the piazza or down the stairs to the promenade made it extremely convenient. The Ship: My sailing experience up until this point was limited to growing up on the water sailing 30 foot sailboats, so needless to say, the ship was impressive to me. However, despite its large size, I rarely ever felt crowded onboard. Once you mastered the layout, it was easy to navigate. There was rarely a delay waiting for an elevator - although we often chose to use the stairs to burn off some extra cruise calories. Deck 7 is the promenade deck and it is the easiest way to cut forward or aft to navigate the ship if you are below deck 15. Most of the indoor entertainment is located along this deck and lower ones, including the three story piazza towards the front of the ship where passenger services and the boutiques are located. The piazza was a very pleasant gathering area at night or during the day, and forward of the piazza, you'll find the ship's casino and the theater. Walking the promenade at night was a treat, and it was easy to enjoy being close to the water breaking along the ship—for that matter, walking the upper decks was also a delight at night to take in the stars and ocean breezes. From the promenade, you can walk forward and up a flight of stairs to the bow of the ship on deck 8 (although it closes after sunset) for some spectacular views. The dining rooms are located on Decks 6 and 5. Decks 15 and above are where you will find the buffet, outdoor pools, hot tubs, pizza stand, hamburger grill, and ice cream station as well as the sun decks, the Sanctuary, basketball court, teen clubs, etc. The dEcor may not have been the most ornate at sea, but it was tasteful, reserved, appealing to me because it wasn't Las Vegas glitzy like many Carnival ships described and photographed online. My partner thought Princess could spruce up the buffet area, unlike the rest of the ship it looks a little dated and heavy like a Florida community cafeteria. And the reviews are right on navigating the buffet—it is a free for all and there are no formal lines, so don't wait around. As far as exercise, the gym is very impressive and I had no trouble using it. We did take the tour of the spa the first afternoon aboard, and were sorely tempted to sign up for a massage and passes priced at $150 for both of us together to use the saunas, heated loungers, and rainforest showers. But in the end, we knew we wouldn't have the time and the rest of the ship's facilities like the adults only pools and hottubs would fit the bill. Likewise, the Sanctuary looked inviting, but we passed because our own itinerary left us little time to use it. Dining: I have to give high marks to Princess for dining - overall, choices were plentiful and the food was very good. We choose Anytime Dining and it was nice not to be tied down by a set dining time—we found it worked well with our schedules and appetites. On two nights we ate with other passengers and enjoyed the company and chance to meet new people; on other nights we waited for a table for two and savored the privacy together. With anytime dining, you could choose to eat in the Coral (deck 6) or Island (deck 5) dining rooms—the Palm dining room was reserved for traditional seating—but the menus were the same for each. In fact, we opted not to eat at the two specialty restaurants—Sabitinis and Crown Grill—because we were content with the menu (although I did hear from other passengers the steaks at Crown Grill were excellent, much better than those served in the main dining rooms). We tried both dining rooms and preferred the Island because the service seemed to be friendlier—in fact, the staff made all the difference in the world. From the moment we were greeted at the door, to meeting Tudor, who has to be one of the best servers at sea, we returned to the Island dining room every night. And I would guess we couldn't have been the only ones who felt the same way, because we saw many other passengers who seemed to gravitate to the dining room as well (including a famous BBC actor, his partner and family). The typical meal offered an appetizer (spring rolls were some of my favorites) as well as a soup or salad (wonton soup was great - and after tasting the better half's I was sad I didn't try the frozen-rum infused pina colada soup - in fact, all of the fruit soups were fantastic!) followed by a main course (on this trip the pork dishes were very good - and the staff were more than accommodating to make changes if you didn't like the sides). Dessert never disappointed - whether it was cheesecake, crème brule, apple pie or even amaretto ice cream). Likewise, with so many choices, you couldn't leave the buffet hungry - and the fresh fruit had us returning throughout the day for snacks. We did try the cheeseburgers on deck, but hands down our favorite was the pizza - the best we have ever had outside of New York City. If you like pizza, you'll fall in love with the thin crust. And for a cool treat, we'd pop by the ice cream stand for soft serve or hard ice cream (again, taking the stairs came in handy). In your stateroom you could order room service from a more limited menu, and you could request fresh fruit like bananas, oranges, apples, kiwis, pears, etc be delivered every morning to your stateroom (which were excellent to take along and snack on during active long shore excursions like the ones we did). You could also get a coffee/tea and juice service delivered with a continental breakfast to wake up to in the morning. All you had to do for both was fill out a card and place it on your door before retiring to bed. Ports of Call: In addition to the price and ship, the itinerary was one of the prime drivers (if not the prime factor) for us in choosing this cruise. Admittedly, we weren't looking for a Caribbean booze cruise—we wanted to visit islands that were out of the traditional cruise circuit and a bit more natural to would put our amphibian hiking shoes to and snorkel sets to work, and with the exception of St. Thomas, that's exactly what we found. Our visit to the island of Dominica was the highlight of the trip. In fact, I highly recommend contacting Levi Baron of Bumpiing Tours (www.bumpiingtours.com) if you find yourself lucky enough to visit this natural treasure (so beautiful, in fact, that you'll find out much of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies were filmed on location). Thanks to Levi's friendly, safe, and no-hassle expert tour, we feel in love with Dominica. We swam in the Titou gorge, visited the Trafalgar falls, relaxed in a hot sulfur spring, and discovered fish, coral, and a 400 year old canon from a shipwreck at Champagne Reef. I can't recommend Levi enough - and for those of you hesitant to abandon the overpriced, rushed organized mass herded cruise tours, don't miss out on this wonderful experience. I also can't recommend the incredible tool available to cruisers on CruiseCritic -- member reviews are a great resource to go by. With such a short time in Grenada, we passed on tours and instead decided to explore the charming streets of St. George's as a pleasant (and low cost) treat. For our visit to Bonaire, we again abandoned the cruise ship tours and rented a small car (if renting from a leading dealer at the airport, call the office and ask to be met at the dock - they will also drop you back off at the dock). I can't imagine doing a better thing - with a good map from the rental company, we explored every inch of the island, seeing the great salt flats in the south, old slave huts, mangrove forests, the interior, snorkeled along the coast, sighted flamingoes in Lake Gotomeer, visited the National Forrest to the north, and saw ancient Indian petroglyphs and moon-like rocky surfaces on the weather beaten western coast. We even encountered a pack of curious donkeys and stopped for a quick photo with them. On Aruba we found the local public bus system—Arubus—to be a clean, inexpensive, and reliable way to get around the island. For about $6 or $7 total, we traveled from the main station next to the dock downtown up to the Butterfly farm, the resorts beaches on Palm Coast, and the Arashi snorkeling sites on the northern end of the island. You can visit the Arubus website for more information, and pick up a bus route map when arriving on the island. Just watch your time (and pad a little extra time to make sure you are back to the dock a little early) and know the frequency of the bus schedule. As a general rule the buses come along the main line every 10 - 15 minutes; the Arashi bus can take up to an hour between runs. Also, don't overlook another great stop before or after the cruise itself - Old San Juan. With its rich history, beautiful colonial architecture, restaurants, shops and forts like San Cristobal and El Morro, a visit to Old San Juan is wonderful excursion. Entertainment: Visiting the piazza onboard yielded some of the most delightful entertainment experiences like listening to members of the Caribbean Princess Orchestra play Dixieland and Jazz favorites, or spending the last evening aboard at Crooners with new found friends listening to piano player Eric Stone as he took song requests. With busy days in port, we enjoyed escaping the onboard bars and clubs at night to go to the pools and hottubs (which were usually deserted) or strolled along the top decks to enjoy the nights together. Movies Under the Stars is an experience you won't soon forget—it feels a little like a drive in movie (from what I can remember), but from the comfort of a padded deck chair with popcorn and candy readily available. During the voyage there were also comedians and a hypnotist aboard, as well as themed nights in the clubs and bars, but again we skipped these because we wanted to relax and savor the tropical nights. One area where we both felt Princess dropped the ball big time was the "Broadway" style shows. Wow, do they really consider that Broadway style? They were terrible—in fact, someone remarked on CruiseCritic that they were like dinner theater, but that is an insult to dinner theater. They were more like kids' talent recital shows with actors cast instead. I mean, I felt bad for the actors - some of them do have talent - but Princess should seriously review the talent and vision of their artistic directors if this is the caliber of entertainment they are offering and billing to passengers as "Broadway" style. There was no story, they were just a collection of scenes which shared the same stage. In fairness some people did enjoy the performances and my better half is an accomplished stage actor himself, and so I have been fortunate to be treated to some good shows—but I have also sat through my fair share of bad shows too and these performances were a big disappointment and ranked pretty far down there. Crew and Service: Without a doubt, the thing that can make or break the public's perception of a travel or tourism experience are the people they encounter who make it all happen. Before deciding on this cruise we watched an episode on Princess Cruises on the Travel Channel and heard about the Princess Difference - which sounded remarkably like the Disney Difference in customer service that has made their resorts some of the most popular destination spots on the planet. We certainly saw the commitment to going the extra mile from people like Tudor and his colleagues in the Island Dining Room, and from others like our cabin steward Jose (I honestly don't know if Jose slept a wink the entire trip - it seems he always knew the moment we left our cabin and came in to tidy the place up or turn down the bed for the night, even if we only stepped out for ten minutes). We'd see smiling faces of crew in the hallways and were bowled over when the young woman at the ice cream stand smiled and remembered just how we liked our cones (we visited once a day, but out of 3,000 passengers, that was impressive). We also encountered some crew members who understandably fell short, after all the crew have to be some of the hardest working people under the sun. Still, it was disappointing when you needed help getting another towel on deck (finding one was a task in itself) - or worse yet - when you needed to get help straightening out a billing error at Customer Service, only to wait in a long line to have a crew member more interested in getting you out of their way than helping you out. In fact, on disembarkation we found ourselves at Passenger Services again trying to straighten out a problem we thought had been resolved the night before. Fellow Passengers: By and large we encountered a diverse mix of passengers, most seemed to be comprised of Americans and Canadians looking to escape the winter for some Caribbean sunshine and relaxation. There were some couples like us or younger aboard, and some families with children and teens, but most were couples older than us. Everyone is there for a good time and we encountered many friendly people on board and conversations were quick and easy to strike up. After a day or two, you started seeing familiar faces and you'd catch up or trade laughs. Disembarkation: The day before disembarkation, information is delivered to your room about the process as well as luggage tags and group assignments for leaving the ship, along with your customs forms. Passengers are asked to pack their luggage and place it in the hallway the night before so it can be processed and returned to you in the terminal to clear customs after you leave the ship. The Caribbean Princess docked back in San Juan at 6:00 a.m., and for the most part passengers were asked to vacate their cabins by 8:00 a.m. We had signed up for EZ Check, which allows you to check in for your flight while still on the ship. For a fee of $20 per person (plus any additional baggage fees from the airlines), your boarding passes are delivered to the room as well as luggage tags for your plane trip home. After disembarking the ship and clearing customs, you turn the checked luggage back over to a Princess representative and the bags are checked through and taken to the airport to meet you again when you land at your final destination. This is a good service - especially if you plan on spending any time in Old San Juan before departing for home and don't want to haul bags around with you. The disembarkation process is also fairly simple - you gather in a public space until a member of the crew dismisses your group, then you head off the ship, collect your bags in the terminal, and join the queue to clear customs. Don't let the line intimidate you - ours stretched all the way to the end of the building, but it moved very quickly and we were out without hassle. The only drawback we experienced was dealing with passenger services - again, having spent time the night before to resolve an accounting problem, we thought our account was settled. By 7:00 a.m. on disembarkation day, we were contacted by passenger services and returned again to settle the account - and in the process - had only five minutes before our group was to meet and leave the ship. We asked the Passenger Services crew member if he thought we would have a few minutes to grab a quick bite to eat (forgoing breakfast because we had to straighten the account out again). To sum up his reaction and response you would think that if we weren't with your group -and off the ship in 5 minutes to collect your bags and go through the Gestapo like process he described—your bags would be shredded in a giant mulcher, your passports and ID's would be confiscated, and you'd be sent by the Department of Homeland Security to Guantanamo. The truth, as we found out, couldn't be further from this - the groups are done to make the process orderly, which is completely understandable, but we could have easily taken about 30 minutes to grab a quick breakfast before heading off the ship, collecting our luggage, and passing through the easy customs process. It just was an unpleasant note to end the trip on. And to judge from the long line of people also at Passenger Services that morning, we weren't the only ones. Summary: Being a first time cruiser, I confess to researching the ship, cruise line, and itinerary extensively. When you can only go on one vacation a year because of cost (or in our circumstances, busy work schedules) it's only natural to want to make sure it goes great and you get the best bang for your buck and best time for your limited vacation days. Princess Cruises had stood out to us for their reputation and commitment to service while also being a good value, and the itinerary was an important factor. Still, we asked every passenger who had cruised before to compare this voyage to prior Princess cruises or cruises on other lines, and without exception, everyone said that quality and service had noticeably slipped. Some long-term Princess cruisers pointed to what they believed were the effects of Carnival's corporate culture coming into fuller effect following the line's purchase of Princess, others said that it was a result of an economic downturn that has caused everyone to cut back. Still, I have to say the cruise was a great experience - for the price we paid, we got to travel to several islands while only unpacking once and never having to worry about wheter breakfast, lunch, or dinner was going to be good (or even necessitate a trip to the local pharmacy). If you were like me and on the fence about a cruise and whether or not it is really for you, I say take a chance, you might just be surprised. Now we just wish we could have taken the time off from work to combine this trip with the alternating second week itinerary trip many other passengers we met were taking. Maybe a week just isn't enough? Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
This was my 2nd cruise on princess, the first being an alaskan cruise which I went on with my parents. I took this cruise with my partner and it was her first time cruising.We flew into San Juan a day early. We had no problem getting ... Read More
This was my 2nd cruise on princess, the first being an alaskan cruise which I went on with my parents. I took this cruise with my partner and it was her first time cruising.We flew into San Juan a day early. We had no problem getting around the city. Taxis were very clearly priced. We had a hotel close to the airport and beach and took a taxi into downtown. We went to both of the forts, they were beautiful, but we really only needed to see one. Walked down 'calle del sol' which is just a quaint little street lined with colorful houses. We did alot of walking around and enjoying the weather. We enjoyed the beach that was about 2 blocks from the hotel, and also the hotels pool and swim up bar :)On the morning of embarkation we took a taxi to the pier... it was not in downtown san juan, so we didn't get a chance to walk around any more as we had hoped. But we got on the ship rather quickly and started finding our way around. We purchased two bottles of wine at the duty free shop and brought them on board to our room.We had booked an inside cabin, but had been upgraded to a balcony a few weeks before the cruise!!! We were so psyched! Our travel agent said that hardly ever happens, so we were pretty lucky!The islands:St. Thomas-We took a champagne catamaran excursion over to St. John. I believe it was called Honeymoon Beach. It was an awesome boat ride. Our tour guides were great. Snorkeling was awesome. Everyone really spread out and we got really close to some sea turtles. We tried to call over the rest of the group, but literally no one was around. It was a great experience. wine, mimosas or rum punch on the way back, and there was plenty to go around!Dominica-we did the wacky rollers ziplining excursion. It was fantastic. Although they gave very little guidance, it was great and very safe. A great challenge-and we were pretty sore the next day! Grenada-we stayed on the ship. enjoyed the pool and some ice carving.Bonaire-we decided to do another snorkeling tour, which we hadn't signed up for in advance. Turned out to be great. It was an older wooden boat which sailed us over to Klein Bonaire. Again, it was beautiful, swimming among the fish and coral. They took 'advanced' snorkelers out a bit farther and then we swam back to the boat. We are not 'advanced' nor did we need to be! We are athletic and were able to swim the distance without being tired. With fins and an inflatable vest, it's pretty easy. Our tour guide was slightly pushy and kept telling us to keep up with the group. I would've liked to be able to take my time and enjoy what I wanted to see. But it was nice that we knew that they weren't going to leave without us!Aruba-we did not do an excursion. We walked a couple of blocks to the bus depot and paid a few dollars to go down to lines of hotels. We didn't really know the lay of the land, so just hoped off at a hotel and walked out to the beach. We ended up renting a chair from the hotel and enjoyed the day! it was great, clear blue water as we had imagined! Back in PR-disembarkation was quick and we ended up at the airport way too early for our flight. We convinced our driver to bring us back to the beach that we had been to before-across from the hotel. We spent a couple of hours there and then took a cab back into the airport.On the ship-activities were plentiful! We took many dance classes, went on the behind the scenes tour, got a spa treatment. The entertainment was good, not great. It's not broadway or anything, but it's entertaining.Overall a great time! Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Caribbean Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 3.5 N/A
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.5 4.2
Fitness & Recreation 4.0 N/A
Family 3.5 3.8
Shore Excursions 4.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 3.5 N/A
Service 4.0 4.2
Value for Money 4.0 N/A

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