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132 Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades) to Caribbean - Southern Princess Caribbean Princess Cruise Reviews

We chose it because the price was reasonable and wanted to see the rest of the So Caribbean. We loved the excursions be the ship left a lot to be desired. They had v ery little entertainment during the day and what they had at night was ... Read More
We chose it because the price was reasonable and wanted to see the rest of the So Caribbean. We loved the excursions be the ship left a lot to be desired. They had v ery little entertainment during the day and what they had at night was no very good. We loved the Royal and Regal but this ship is one we will not sail on again. We were bored and that does not usually happen on a cruise. The crew was great as was the food. A lot of our time was sent in the casino which was our form of entertainment. The chairs in Crooners were filthy and very uncomfortable. The mattress was too soft and gave us back aches. The worst was the size of the shower in our balcony room. It was horrible. My husband is 6ft 3 and could not manage. I had trouble. Could not bend over and was my feet. Had to do it when I got out. We will not go on this ship again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
7 day Southern Caribbean. Ship feels old and outdated. Elevators are very slow and cannot accommodate the many summer passengers. Casino is too small and cannot accommodate all gamblers. Although, they had a craps table. They get a ... Read More
7 day Southern Caribbean. Ship feels old and outdated. Elevators are very slow and cannot accommodate the many summer passengers. Casino is too small and cannot accommodate all gamblers. Although, they had a craps table. They get a star for that one. It is a reoccurring theme with this ship. Food was standard for a average cruise ship. No wonderful meals like I had on Holland. The ports were the draw of why i came on the ship. No need to go to Curacao or Aruba. 3 days in Bonaire for me please. the movies on the ship were good and cabin tv system was good with lots of choices and recent movies and tv series. The cabin could be made Ice cold so very good AC system. Gym and sauna was good. The ship is just average. Things on it really bothered me. If you like to walk the deck like i do after a meal, you have to walk up stairs on the forward and aft part. you can't walk around it on the same level. also they close it off bc of wind at times. if you enjoy wasting about 15-20 minutes of your day waiting on elevators. This ship is for you. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
This was an 8-night cruise to the Dutch islands of Curacao, Bonaire, and Aruba, and the dates worked well for us. As a second cruise on Princess within a year (first one was in Alaska), the Caribbean Princess was very disappointing. On ... Read More
This was an 8-night cruise to the Dutch islands of Curacao, Bonaire, and Aruba, and the dates worked well for us. As a second cruise on Princess within a year (first one was in Alaska), the Caribbean Princess was very disappointing. On the positive side: Our cabin was nice -- a mini-suite with a balcony and real bathroom with a tub. Very comfortable bedding and air conditioning worked well. Room steward was very attentive and our cabin was cleaned as soon as we left the room. The dinners in the dining room were very nice with numerous choices, special requests handled graciously, and very pleasant staff. The choices for breakfast and lunch were usually in one of the public dining areas which had plentiful choices from the buffet, made-to-order omelets for breakfast, and different selections everyday for lunch. Very good wait staff there as well. Regarding entertainment, the few shows offered were quite enjoyable and provided a variety of acts. From comedy, to a staged show, to a music and dance theme, all were enjoyable. In the negative zone: We found very little to do onboard the ship during sea days, and scheduled events involved selling something. From China-made clothing events, to posture/walking products, other care products, and art of course. We regularly found that there was very little seating, IF any, in the atrium area to enjoy a coffee or listen to music, or just rest for a bit. The worst experience for me was on the first day of port visits in Curacao. We had booked the Hato Cave Tour which left at about Noon. The first stop at the cave nearly resulted in me needing a paramedic. There were over 50 very steep steps UP to a cave, which necessitated me to sit midway on one step to allow me to catch my breath and continue on (about 10-15 minutes). Once in the cave, it was hot and not a "cooled cave" as you would expect. It did have quite a few fans on stands, but there was no place to sit unless you were cautious not to lean back and possibly fall into the cave about two stories down. I was close to having suffered a heat stroke and tried my best not to black out. I was thankful to a couple of ladies from California who stayed with me and subsequently helped me out of the cave. The tour guide seemed blind to my distress. Afterwards back on the bus, one of the ladies gave me a fruit to help my dehydration and give me some nourishment. Our tour was supposed to go back to the ship so we could have lunch but the cancelled that portion. We were provided with NO food, snacks, beverages for the entire time of the tour, with all the provisions that there are on the ship. The tour guide, Ursula, provided many facts that guests needed to correct her about. I did not get off the bus for the rest of the day in fear or heat exhaustion again. The guide rearranged the order of the tour, and we did not get back to the ship until 8:00PM. At that point, we were unable to make the 8:30PM dinner at the specialty restaurant. We were not dressed for it nor in a state of mind to enjoy it. Being diabetic and not having enough to drink or eat for that many hours was a serious issue. That tour really ruined the beginning of our ports of call and my attitude towards Princess. Our experience with Princess tours in Alaska was excellent, so this experience was a 180-degree difference. We reported the Curacao tour issue onboard the Caribbean Princess to their excursion desk, but they did not seem very caring. Also, I was not the only one to have difficulty with the Hato Cave climb or inside visit. It truly ruined my view of Princess tours. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
It was our anniversary and we are trying cruise lines other than Carnival. We were fortunate to get upgraded to a Club Class mini-suite. We had booked an accessible balcony but when we were offered an upgrade we jumped on it since I ... Read More
It was our anniversary and we are trying cruise lines other than Carnival. We were fortunate to get upgraded to a Club Class mini-suite. We had booked an accessible balcony but when we were offered an upgrade we jumped on it since I could fold my wifes wheelchair and carry it in the room. Darn we got spoiled in the Club Class dining room. Our servers were first rate especially Marvin, Greys Kelly and Sergio. The ABC islands were interesting for caribbean islands since they are very arid and have cooling tradewinds. It never got above 82 and the breezes made them very comfortable. We only picked two excursions, both were trolley trains on Curacao and Bonaire. They were average since the seats were tiny and faced each other. They did offer a view of each islands capital. The TV line up featured Msnbc, Fox, Cnbc and BBC world news along with espn international and the deuce. Their on demand movies were first rate and very current. They showed the latest on the big screen up top (the movies under the stars became a favorite activity) and then they would add them the next day to the offerings in the cabins. Movies shown included (this was May of 2018) Star Wars, the last jedi, The Black Panther, The Greatest Showman, Justice League etc. The offerings in the cabin included many oscar nominated films such as I Tonya, Shape of Water, Dunkirk, Three Billboards, etc. TV offerings were from the Discovery Channel and many current series. I know most folks don't watch a lot to tv on a cruise but not everybody is a party animal so I mentioned them. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Overview: We have sailed several different cruise lines in the past, and when our friends whom are loyal Princess cruisers invited us along, we agreed it would be fun to try a new line. I'm personally surprised by the negative ... Read More
Overview: We have sailed several different cruise lines in the past, and when our friends whom are loyal Princess cruisers invited us along, we agreed it would be fun to try a new line. I'm personally surprised by the negative reviews because we had such a fantastic experience! yes, the ship is older, but I found it to be well maintained. The only thing that I truly did not like was the size of the cabin. We had a balcony on the Baja deck and it was probably the smallest balcony room I've ever sailed with. Thankfully, we didn't let that spoil our cruise! We traveled with friends, which made it extra special. Our friends have two kids and we have one daughter age 11. I will say that we had some interesting experiences with other passengers. Some were downright rude towards my daughter and our friends children. They acted as if kids shouldn't have been on this cruise. We did meet others that were very sweet towards the kids, so that gave me hope. This ship is definitely not a 'kid's' ship like Disney, but I will say that the kid's programs were excellent and my daughter loved the Junior Chef at Sea program. All in all, a very fun cruise! Great Ports of Call in Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao! Embarkation: We were one of the first people to be checked in due to our friends Elite status. The coast guard was doing an inspection, which meant we didn't get onboard until around 1:00 P.M. We were told not to go to our cabins, so we headed to the buffet for lunch. Dining: I loved our server in the Dining Room! We did Traditional Dining at 5:30 P.M. I don't know if I just picked the right things, but everything was delicious! We were a large table of 9 and the wait staff attended to our every need. Night two they already had my chosen beverage on the table. We ate lunch at the buffet a few times. It wasn't the best buffet I've ever eaten at, but it was clean and attractive. My husband and daughter raved about the pizza! The highlight meal was definitely Crown Grill. I cannot recommend this experience enough! The Filet and Lobster tails were outstanding and the dessert (Crown Decadence) was not only beautiful, but delicious! Service was outstanding and rivaled any five star restaurant. I also enjoyed Afternoon Tea most days. I consider myself a tea connoisseur and the white glove service did not disappoint. Entertainment and Activities: You could never be bored on this ship! We enjoyed the Steam Room in the spa, the pools, hot tubs, Bingo, etc. My favorite experience, however, was the Voice of the Ocean! I auditioned and got on the show. What an experience! If anyone in your party sings, please make sure that they audition. Once you become a finalist, you work with a band and the vocal mentors from the ship. The final night of the cruise is the big finale in the Princess Theater with the judges. Great fun!!!! Ports and Excursions: In Curacao, we did Sea Aquarium Beach (Mambo Beach) Break. We are avid snorkelers and took our own equipment. I was surprised by how much marine life we saw out at the rocks! The water was gorgeous, nice chaise loungers to relax in. Great time! You could do this on your own, but we went with the cruise line since it was our first time to this port. In Aruba, we did the Jolly Pirates (schooner, shipwreck, snorkel) and had a blast! The shipwreck was pretty deep, but it was eerily cool! The snorkeling wasn't anything to write home about, but it was decent. The highlight of this trip is the rope swing! I was too chicken to try it, but my daughter and our friend's loved it! It was so much fun watching! They offered 'Pirate's Poison", juices, and soft drinks while onboard. Bonaire was our favorite! We did the Marine Park Snorkel, which takes you to the Plaza Resort. Very nice because only a few people went and we practically had the resort to ourselves! Snorkeling was amazing! Some of the best I've ever experienced! Then, we chilled by the pool in the cushioned loungers and cabanas. Summary: I would definitely cruise on this ship again! She's going into Dry Dock soon and that will make her an even better ship! Princess exceeded my expectations and I may have found a new favorite cruise line! The staff was so friendly and helpful! I loved the Assistant Cruise Director Matt! He's a ball of energy and fun! Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
BACKGROUND: 51 cruises, 36 of which were on Princess. Solo world traveler who enjoys adventure, sea days, lots of ports for the money. TRAVEL TO PORT: For convenience, I flew nonstop from Boston to Miami. However, getting back to ... Read More
BACKGROUND: 51 cruises, 36 of which were on Princess. Solo world traveler who enjoys adventure, sea days, lots of ports for the money. TRAVEL TO PORT: For convenience, I flew nonstop from Boston to Miami. However, getting back to Ft. Lauderdale took some time and extra money. Next time, will fly one stop to Ft. Lauderdale. Used an outstanding private limo company for all my FL travels – airport, cruise pier, hotel. HOTEL: Hilton’s Homewood Suites near the Ft. Lauderdale Airport and Cruise Port. Very welcoming staff, comfortable suite, extremely convenient – but no on-site restaurant. However, they do offer a free breakfast buffet with limited options and a free evening reception with light, limited options during the week but not on weekend nights, including Fridays, for the evening feed. EMBARKATION: Total chaos. Despite guests receiving a bulletin about check-in times according to where their accommodations were, people must have lined up at dawn. The few Princess reps at the terminal often did not know where to direct people. Baggage was collected courteously and timely, however. I’m an Elite Princess loyalty member, and there is a special check-in desk for the upper levels of the loyalty group. However, access to it from the outside of the terminal was blocked by a rope, and the agent at the door directed everybody through one single door. Long lines inside, plus the hassle of filling out a health form which Princess needs to include in its pre-board documents which could be home-printed and filled out in comfort. From the coughs and sneezes at the terminal, I doubt those forms contain honest information, anyway. Nice check-in agent once I got to the counter, and an easy fast walk through security, avoided the photographers, and boarded the ship quickly. The Ft. Lauderdale terminals were built for smaller ships, and simply cannot handle the large ship passenger numbers comfortably now, and need expansion. Once on the ship, it was hard to get inside because the spa ladies and other crew were busy handing out all sorts of paper ads in the one doorway, nearly blocking it. Elevators were crammed, and I’m grateful I can carry my bag up 7 decks without needing the elevator. SHIP: 14 years old and looks it inside, and due for dry-dock mid-March. Faded and dated interior,worn furniture, but still looks OK on the outside. Yellowish lighting all over the ship needs updating and more brightness. Small central piazza and three-deck atrium. Three banks of stairs and elevators - fore, midships, aft. See Princess website for complete details. CABIN: Deck 12 mid-forward location on starboard side. Usual Princess smallish balcony cabin, bed converted to king size, with tired, too-soft mattress. Tired, chipped, stained furniture – two chairs, desk/vanity unit with mirror, not enough bright light anywhere. TV and mini-fridge. Poor TV programming. Not enough drawers for one person even. Salty, sticky balcony furniture and slippery plastic tile flooring on balcony. Plenty of good wooden hangers. Adequate and quiet cabin, but not what you would call luxurious – more like functional. AC marginally functional or not at all for this tropical climate cruise, and “fix” consisted of pulling vent off and screwing it back on, barely, revealing a dirty hole in ceiling. Everywhere I wiped flat surfaces with sanitizer wipes, they came away black, gray, or brown with dust and dirt. Carpeting pulled up around base of walls near floor in some places. Internet service was expensive and horribly slow. Balcony neighbors got too loud many times. Bathroom was tiny. Shower had moldy black clothesline, which I asked to be replaced – it was, but the replacement was equally black and moldy, thus unusable. No cold water, then no hot water, fixed but barely worked and produced rusty sludge requiring use of bottled water to wash face and brush teeth. Three small shelves in bathroom for personal items. Sluggish toilet flushing. Shower curtain bottom was moldy. ACTIVITIES: Most were money-making “seminars” and lectures for the ship. The activities seemed very dated and juvenile, especially for a senior-age passenger population. The popular Zumba classes were jammed, and far too short. Guests requested more and longer classes, but it never happened. There were two enrichment lectures, but the only one I attended was a four-part outstanding series on the “Titanic”. Sadly some noisy, banging type of ship maintenance interrupted the final half of the last lecture, and the frustrated lecturer simply could not continue, leaving everybody hanging as to what the rest of his really good stories contained. Despite repeated pleas to the tech staff in the theater, the banging continued – totally rude and thoughtless of the crew, if this was simply routine maintenance. Crowded but popular fitness center for workout fans. Spa for those who wanted pampering. A few shops for retail therapy folks, but certainly no bargains or anything spectacular. “Sidewalk sales” on sea days or some evenings had tables full of junk which apparently would sell easily – bargain T-shirts, cheap fake rings, etc. Bingo and gambling were very popular, if one could survive the tobacco stink in the casino. Crowded pool areas on this tropical itinerary, obviously. Bible study and religious services for those so inclined on the proper day and time. Get-togethers for various professional groups. Art auctions and jewelry sales. It was a combination of a floating mall, street fair, bazaar, and real-life in-person demos in the style of the hysterical TV pitchmen. Eating was as popular as ever on cruises, with several venues besides three dining rooms to feed the masses. Nobody could be bored on this trip unless they wanted to be, but overall, it wasn’t really quality activity. I was happy to just watch the ocean roll by, Zumba and workouts, socializing, and enjoying the ports, reading, and doing some travel writing. ITINERARY AND PORTS: Well-done itinerary, with two full sea days, three straight port days, and two more full sea days. The Netherlands Antilles Islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao were visited, and all had a unique Dutch ambience in a desert island setting. Gorgeous blue sky and blue sea, friendly people, unique wildlife, unusual scenery, and reasonably clean and walkable port towns. The ship offered printed shopping information, as these ports are meccas for big-name merchandise shoppers, but not much as far as maps and other tourist information. This could be readily obtained at the ports from information booths or helpful locals. Many languages are spoken at these ports, with English readily understood. Souvenirs could be expensive, depending on what was purchased and where, but American dollars were welcomed, and most credit cards at many places. For iguana admirers, a beautiful seaside park in Aruba about a 10 minute walk from the pier is full of many species of iguanas, some several feet long, and all were fascinating at a respectful distance. Bonaire was loaded with pink flamingos, goats, sheep, lizards, snakes, and donkeys and SCUBA activity. All the ports were dock ports, thankfully – no tenders! All seemed very tourist-friendly, as well. The weather was warm and beautiful, other than very strong trade winds and some high waves at times. EXCURSIONS: I did not use any of the ship’s multiple offerings of shore tours. I had two private tours, one in Aruba and one in Bonaire, and both were money well spent for a full afternoon of seeing what I wanted and doing what I wanted, all with great guides and vehicles with AC. The Aruba tour included a spontaneous visit to a gorgeous quiet beach, where I went swimming in the bathtub-warm water in my clothes. SCUBA divers and water sports enthusiasts will find these islands a true paradise. I walked on my own all day in Curacao with a simple street map from the tourist information ladies at the pier, and saw everything I was interested in. Curacao was the largest port area visited, and had multiple colorful Dutch-style buildings and a unique floating pontoon bridge. I did not eat anything at the ports, but the food smelled good. SERVICE: I had some of the best cabin steward and dining room waiters in my many cruises. Gracious, friendly, smiling and cheerful, always, and extremely efficient. The spa front desk crew were a robotic, sad, grim bunch, but my masseuse was friendly and efficient. The young woman who did my hair spoke so little English we could not communicate (and which resulted in some minor damage to my long hair). The manicurist at the spa was delightful and friendly. The guest services front desk was all business, some with little experience and not enough English to understand, communicate, or fix problems. There were some who were helpful, however, and they would follow up with phone calls, often timed inconveniently, but at least there was some degree of follow-up. This department also sent me roses due to some major issues with the cabin. Shop clerks appeared burned out and tired. Some of the cabin staff seemed very depressed and burned out. The majority of the crew on this ship seemed to have the same problem – fatigue, burn-out, robotic behavior, no smiles. Never saw the captain, but enjoyed his PA announcements (which were barely audible). The young lady who led Zumba was upbeat and cheerful, thankfully. It almost felt like the crew was peopled by zombies. The worst of the lot was the Maitre’d, who insulted me when I tried to get a small table I had requested at time of booking, due to medical reasons. He was arrogant, rude, and antisocial, and I reported him to the guest services manager. I need to eat alone, slowly, peacefully due to a medical issue and carry a doctor’s letter as proof. This apparently doesn’t mean much to Princess, nor the fact of my 37 years of loyalty and repeated cruises. I’ve never been treated this badly before by crew, as far as the dining situation, and I’ve notified the main Princess office as well. I like the traditional early seating in the dining room each night – I do not want to eat alone in my cabin, or get food from the dreadful buffet. I should not have to fight to get what I need, especially at my Elite status, paying double for single occupancy on many cruises, and because of medical necessity. The ship is going into dry-dock within weeks, and perhaps some of the crew needs to have this type of break as well. DINING: I lost four pounds on this cruise due to the food being bad most of the time. Dining room menus were really odd combinations of left-overs most of the time. The pasta was never cooked right and had to be sent back repeatedly It was hard as a rock. Rice was inedible, also not cooked at all, and perhaps someone poured hot water over regular rice and expected that to cook it. The Italian cuisine items in the dining room had watery, terrible sauces. The linguine was hard pasta with the “cream sauce” in it resembling watered-down chicken broth. It was also overloaded with bits of peppers and lots of Asian chili flakes. All the food seemed to be over-seasoned and full of pepper and chili specks. The sole was the only edible fish on the menu, and once when I ordered prawns, tiny shrimp appeared instead. The lobster tail was good, however, as were the prawns when they finally appeared again on the menu. Portion size was large, and the plates were attractive. Food was not always served at the proper temperature, however, and was usually lukewarm instead of hot. Ice cream was instead cheap ice milk, at least the vanilla variety. Lots of nuts in everything, and not always noticeable - a real risk for those with nut allergies. I did not eat at the buffet, other than the first morning when I went there to get some Danish pastry to take back to my cabin. I noticed fruit flies orbiting over all the trays of Danish on the breakfast buffet. From long experience, I avoid the buffets, as the food is often dry, stale, over-cooked, held too long, cold or hot when it should be hot or cold, and people still stick their fingers in the food despite health warnings and utensils placed there for serving. There is a gloved crew person at the buffet entrance now, at least on this cruise, who hands a plate with a napkin roll of utensils on it, to each guest. The Purell dispenser got some use at the dining room, but not always. Many menu items for lunch and dinner were the same items one gets at home – spaghetti, meat loaf, roast turkey, fried chicken and other comfort foods. No more elegant gourmet cuisine on this cruise line! Room service menus had something for every food group, but were very uninspired with little variety. Service was very good, however, with plentiful portions. The tiny International Café on the piazza level had some interesting but weird salad combinations, multiple sandwiches, great deserts and often long lines. This was a great take-out type lunch option, and it’s open 24 hours a day. However, you can’t get lunch food much before 11:30 AM. They had good quiche daily, each day being a different kind. The foods were all served individually on tiny plates, however, which makes taking your meal to a table or to your cabin a juggling ordeal. I did not starve, but would have enjoyed far better variety, quality, proper food temperature (you don’t serve Caesar salad warm!!), and lunch food availability. The food appeared to be prepared in an Asian style, which is good if the food is Asian, but not for Italian or typical American style food items. Soups were often watery and far too full of pepper. There was a chocolate item or two daily, some of which were very creative and made the chocoholics on board happy. The dining rooms were extremely noisy due to the metal and lack of soft furnishings in their construction, and it was nearly impossible to hear the waiters or other diners during conversation. One night there was something cooked in garlic, and it literally permeated the entire ship to the point of nauseating some people. The silverware looked tired and dull, and several times I noticed food specks stuck on plates and utensils from room service and the International Café. ENTERTAINMENT: I enjoyed the one production show, “Bravo”. Lovely costumes, and more classical style music than Las Vegas type shows, dancing and singing. Singers were better than average for once. A pianist from Russia was also very good at the various venues she performed at, if one could hear her over the roar of conversation in the various lounges and the piazza. A string duo tried hard, but were backed up by computerized sound tracks on a laptop parked just behind them, and between inferior quality string instruments with poor sound and not quite being synchronized with their computer, the sound was very bad. Program mix-ups occurred often enough that what we were seeing as entertainment was not what was scheduled in the daily newsletter on the ship, I did not participate or attend much of the other entertainment, as it was not to my personal taste in music or subject matter. I go on cruises for the boat ride and the ports, and anything else is not that important unless it is really good. Princess seems to feature third-rate has-been entertainers, or the last of the old vaudeville acts lately. I don’t know if the cruise director is considered “entertainment” but apparently he is in charge of what goes on daily. If you love to hear TV pitchmen with bad accents and hysterical, hyper delivery as they hawk junk products, this is the cruise line for you. Every mid-morning, when many late-night guests were still sleeping, this raucous, horrible voice of the cruise director would blast into the corridors about the jewelry store whom I won’t name because they don’t deserve the publicity, the champagne art auctions (you can get better prints for 1/10 the price on art.com type web sites, the bingo games, wine tasting, and for-a-price seminars. This loud intrusion into one’s sanity happened again right at the post-lunch hour when many people were napping. I remember this horrible cruise director from other not so great trips on this ship, and hoped by now that enough negative reviews on him would have had him removed – NOT!. He has great enthusiasm in his job, but that’s the only positive about him. At least half the daily entertainment or activity offerings seemed to be some sort of infomercial or seminar or anything else which would bring more money to the cruise line. I thought the Carnival ships were really bad, but there is very little difference now between Carnival and Princess, and it’s very disappointing and sad. DISEMBARKATION: This is one area where Princess is good, and it has been this way for a long time. You pick your time to leave on a form, turn it in, and get colored tags and a schedule of departure times and places. Very simple, and it works. If you don’t like the time they assign you, ask for a different one which does work. The ship arrived on time, cleared on time, and I was off the ship with the first walk-off group in literally 5 minutes. If you have the Global Entry security clearance, there is a faster line in the customs area. There is also now an app which allows you, four hours before you disembark, to provide customs information and save time once off the ship. You need to be able to handle ALL your baggage to use express walk-off options, but it is worth it. SUMMARY: Princess is not the really nice line it was when I first cruised with them in 1980, All the Italian food is ruined, crew attitude for the most part has sunk to the bottom, the ships are getting old and tired and not being maintained properly in the earlier generations still afloat, crew is procured from areas where there is not enough English training to make crew to passenger interaction beneficial, and making more money on anything and everything possible during a cruise seems to have become all that matters now. Art auctions and the “big-name” jewelry store on board are incessantly advertised, ad nauseum. The food looks mostly like someone having severe hallucinations tossed yesterday’s leftovers in big bowls and dumped it on plates. Fine to save food so it isn’t wasted, but it needs to be edible and appetizing! I’ve cruised on Carnival in my younger days, and did not care for it – but it was cheap. Now, the only difference in Carnival ship cruises (the parent company of Princess and many other brands) versus Princess cruise ships is the age demographics – slightly older crowd depending on the itinerary and time of year on Princess, where Carnival is still popular with the younger party-animal set, with activities and hours to match. If you want quality, respect, and true value for your money, use Crystal Cruise Lines. If you need to follow a tight travel budget, and want to get someplace by ship and go for the ports, Princess is tolerable, and it’s slightly better overall on the Royal and Regal Princess class ships. I rated service very good in this review only because of the dining and cabin stewards being outstanding - the rest of the crew had problems. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
My wife and I and 8 friends just returned from an 8 night cruise aboard the Caribbean Princess with port stops at Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. This ship and Princess cruise lines has both good and not-so-good features and service ... Read More
My wife and I and 8 friends just returned from an 8 night cruise aboard the Caribbean Princess with port stops at Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. This ship and Princess cruise lines has both good and not-so-good features and service levels... EMBARKATION This was our third cruise. On both Disney and Royal Caribbean, passenger cards and ID photos are handled at the same check-in location inside the port terminal. The procedure at Princess is antiquated. While the passenger card is issued in the port terminal, the ID photo is taken by security personnel at the time of initial boarding on the ship. This process caused additional lines and slowed the boarding process. Further, the security person taking my photo did not operate the photo device properly which caused further delays for me as well as fellow passengers waiting behind me. SHIP The ship itself is generally attractive, well-maintained and boasts many amenities expected by experienced cruisers. The open decks are seriously crowded on at-sea days and it is difficult to find sun lounges unless you are an early-riser. Expect The Sanctuary, a reservations/extra fee-required space to be fully booked almost immediately so make those reservations as soon as possible after you board if you are interested in that. Note there is limited sun space and no pool in The Sanctuary. There are numerous bars throughout the ship, but I noticed that one bar on one of the sun decks toward the stern was closed, despite a sold-out ship. CABIN We occupied a mini-suite which includes a sitting room area and balcony. The room was generally well-appointed, has two small TV monitors (very limited TV channels and mediocre picture) and a small refrigerator. There are limited outlets so if you bring a variety of electronic devices that require re-charging, I recommend you pack a multi-strip outlet. There are plenty of clothes hangars, a room safe and bathrobes were provided on request at no additional charge. The bathroom is adequate but shower controls are a bit confusing at first. DINING This is where strengths and weaknesses are most apparent. Strengths are definitely the surcharge restaurants...Sabatini's and Crown Grill are both outstanding. Reservations fill quickly so make them soon after you board the ship. We also appreciated the convenience of the Pizza and Burger walk-ups on Deck 15. Weaknesses are the buffet and the main dining rooms. The food at the buffet was mediocre at best. Everything is pre-cooked including eggs and omelets with no opportunity to order eggs cooked to order. Food service personnel are generally surly and act as though they are inconvenienced by the passengers. Food quality in the main dining rooms is average. The menu choices do change but most dishes appeared to pre-cooked without opportunity to order meats cooked to order. Medium-rare was mostly medium or medium-well if the choice was available. That said, the wait staff was always willing to take the food back and replace it with a better version, assuming it was better. The International Café on Deck 5 is always open and is a decent choice for simple pastry, sandwiches, salads and desserts. ENTERTAINMENT AND ACTIVITIES Evening entertainment was scheduled comparatively early and seemed to assume that most passengers preferred to eat dinner around the 6pm or earlier time. Those preferring to dine later (7pm or after) found themselves missing the evening entertainment. In general, the comedian shows were very good. Late night dancing and music in the Skywalker Lounge was a great venue and was fun for our group. The Cruise Director seemed as intent on selling jewelry as much as facilitating activities. SERVICES Very uneven customer service. Cabin attendant services were very good to excellent. Bartender service was outright weird. Some bartenders were friendly and accommodating while others were surly. The same drink was prepared differently from bar to bar throughout the ship. Dining services in buffet were poor, good in the main dining rooms and superb in the surcharge restaurants, as expected. Customer service desk was hot and cold. You will have better luck at the customer service desk when you do not take "no" for an answer and insist on resolution of your issue. EXCURSIONS Highly recommend you research and book excursions independently from the cruise line. We did this and we were highly successful in finding 5 star diving and snorkeling excursions at prices that were less than those booked through the ship and just excellent trips. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We really enjoyed our 8 day Southern Caribbean cruise. We booked 3 adjoining balcony rooms, and were very glad to see that our room steward could open them up so we could all be together. The rooms were small but not unusually so. The ... Read More
We really enjoyed our 8 day Southern Caribbean cruise. We booked 3 adjoining balcony rooms, and were very glad to see that our room steward could open them up so we could all be together. The rooms were small but not unusually so. The beds were comfortable. The shower was pretty cramped but them I'm 6'3" 250 pounds so your mileage may vary. We loved every part of the ship, from the lounges, to the shows, to the casino (which took all our money... ::) and the food, which was much better than expected. We ate in both specialty restaurants and the food and service in both was excellent. Meanwhile the crew was attentive and kind, and always smiling. We kept running into the same folks over and over, and they remembered our names and gave us a big smile. We felt like family. The other cruisers were an older crowd. I turned 57 during this cruise and I felt quite young in this crowd. Only a few small children were on board. I feel like the Southern Caribbean itinerary is the perfect combination of sea days, and island time. We enjoy both, and this cruise delivers. I'm already planning my next Princess cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Embarking went very smooth. We got right into our room and meet Rolando. He did a great job. The ships layout is not the best. A lot of floors do not go all the way around. There was a lot of vibration as we sailed, almost like a shaft was ... Read More
Embarking went very smooth. We got right into our room and meet Rolando. He did a great job. The ships layout is not the best. A lot of floors do not go all the way around. There was a lot of vibration as we sailed, almost like a shaft was bent. The food aboard was just okay. General dining was the same as in the buffet. Never had that before. I think the cruise lines want you to spend extra money to get food that we use to get in the dining room.Our entertainment was very good. We also had a group of 550-650 people with a rock and roll group that took over areas of the ship for there own use and closed off to the rest of cruiser. I think Princess should have told the rest of us there was such a large group. I'm not sure we will do another Princess. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Booked the Caribbean Princess in January 2016 for the Jan 28-Feb 5, 2017 Southern Caribbean sailing visiting Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. We were a mother/daughter pair: young-at-heart senior citizen of 75, and daughter in early 50's ... Read More
Booked the Caribbean Princess in January 2016 for the Jan 28-Feb 5, 2017 Southern Caribbean sailing visiting Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. We were a mother/daughter pair: young-at-heart senior citizen of 75, and daughter in early 50's with college kids. The senior citizen had never done this itinerary; I did it a few years ago on this same ship. Was happy with the price for a balcony cabin. Fast forward a few months, and I learn of a "Rock n Roll" cruise with bands from the 60's on board. This group would number almost 800, and I figured it would impact public space on the cruise--and it sure did. Embarkation at Port Everglades was stalled while the group moved ahead of everyone else and I stood in the same spot in the terminal, past the initial security checkpoint, for about 30 minutes. When I finally got to the counter there was another delay because contract musicians had not done their paperwork and apparently just presented passports, so the check in guy had to complete a lot of items. Probably the worst check in experience I have ever had and I've done at least 30 cruises in the last 12 years. Finally we get on the ship and head to the room on Riviera, which was clean. The steward introduces himself and asks if we need anything and I asked for robes and extra towels, which were delivered that evening. The steward, Jhess, was the best I've ever had on any cruise line. He was incredibly efficient, friendly and sincere, and every steward on the aft end of the starboard side of the ship always greeted us with a smile and a hello too. Back to the large group: they seemed to be a fun bunch of nice people but they did end up in venues which would normally be available for passengers. For example we had 4 sea days on this cruise and no movies were shown in the main theater because that is when they had activities. I was quite bored and disappointed on this cruise due to my perceived lack of entertainment for me. Having done this same itinerary 3 years ago, on the same ship, and I had plenty of things to keep me busy back then. Perhaps the dates of that one had a younger demographic (it was Spring Break) and maybe they just had more to do? Who knows. Also, I think Princess needs to update what they name their musical groups. Calling the steel drum group from the Caribbean the "Sugar Cane Duo" just doesn't seem right to me in 2017. And the group "Mexcal" who played many Latin songs, fronted by a talented Latina singer, just seemed wrong too. Can't they think of something better than this? This is a big corporation, in the entertainment business, and the names of these groups just irked me to no end. The food was great and so was service in the dining rooms. We were on anytime dining and didn't wait more than 15-20 minute for a table. I was disappointed that main dining room breakfasts ended at 9am on sea days. Would sure like them to do a Sea Day Brunch and extend hours until at least 1pm. Horizon Court and Cafe Caribe had long hours and the food was good. One morning they had a difficult time keeping up with the passengers who wanted breakfast but that is to be expected and is normal. Not complaining--this is just what happens and the bacon will definitely be replenished. I liked that they had premade omelettes on the buffet as it saved a whole lot of time. Plenty of fresh fruit and veggies too. (I only am up 3 pounds after 8 days on a ship which is pretty respectable considering there was so much great food around me.) The main dining room dinners didn't have enough vegetables for me, but that was solved by asking for extra. Three teeny tiny asparagus spears are not enough. We had coffee cards and made good use of them in the International Cafe area. Baristas were willing to customize my drink and I finally got it right on about day 4: "Double Espresso skinny vanilla latte with extra vanilla please" was my favorite. The selection of food in the IC was also quite good and I enjoyed the sandwiches. The three production shows: Piano Man (Billy Joel, Barry Manilow, Elton John songs), Broadway Ballroom and Bravo were excellent with very talented singers and dancers. In-room television was dreadful. No guide to speak of so you had no idea of the time when something would be on. No 'ship channel' with menus, and nothing on their app either. To find out what was in the dining room you actually had to go to said dining room and read the menu. They have an app and this is totally unnecessary. Put menus on the television and at least on the app. The Caribbean Princess is heading to drydock in March 2017 and she does need some sprucing up, and the mattresses were pretty bad. We had two people in our room, and the bed was set up as twins. My travel companion needed an egg crate mattress. I was OK, but it sure was nice to get back home to a 'real' bed. I went up to the Fitness Center and it was incredibly hot. Ended up walking on the Promenade deck for exercise as there was at least a breeze out there. Internet was the usual slow cruise ship version. Standard pricing and slow speed. It is a necessary thing for me when I travel so I just pay for it and use it efficiently. Other cruise lines (Royal Caribbean, Carnival and even Disney) have far better internet options on their newer ships. Princess really needs to upgrade their technology. Ports were Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao which are part of the Netherlands Antilles. Think "Arizona" surrounded by ocean, complete with plenty of dirt and cacti and not much in the way of vegetation. Aruba is about 15 miles from Venezuela and it can get hot down there. When I did this cruise previously we had rough seas and high winds. This cruise had great weather and smooth seas. Did a shore excursion in Aruba and saw the island highlights and the bus had WiFi. Probably the best part of my trip was sitting on that bus, on free wifi, as I never disconnect and have to keep in touch for work even when I am on a cruise. In Curacao we were late to book excursions and I ended up on the alcohol tour: Senior Distillery (makers of Blue Curacao liquor and more), a brewery, and an aloe farm. We walked into town via the floating bridge earlier that morning. You have to check out this town as it really is historical and quite old. In Bonaire I rented a golf cart and it was money well spent. We drove all over the island for about 4 hours. Not that there is much to see, but the Cargill Solar Salt processing center was interesting and it extended for miles and miles. I wanted to see Flamingos and I did see them on those salt flats. However the salt flats are on the east side of the island and it was incredibly windy. Sure wish I had a car for that part of my drive because the golf cart was open and I was chilly. So would I do this cruise, or Princess, again? Probably, but I would ensure there is no huge group on board. Also when sailing Princess I will need to minimize the sea days just because the entertainment offerings are just not to my taste. There was not much for me on this ship and I was very happy to disembark and get in the car and listen to 21st century music. Not that I don't appreciate classical piano and violins: its just that I couldn't escape them on this trip unless I went to my room--and then I was stuck with lousy television. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
I sailed on the Caribbean Princess from January 28 through February 5, 2017. I have sailed most of the major cruise lines, taking approximately 25 cruises. Grand Princess has been my favorite ship for years but Caribbean Princess has just ... Read More
I sailed on the Caribbean Princess from January 28 through February 5, 2017. I have sailed most of the major cruise lines, taking approximately 25 cruises. Grand Princess has been my favorite ship for years but Caribbean Princess has just pushed her to the side and won my heart. She is a beautiful ship. Every piece of wood is shined to a high sheen. No fraying carpet, peeling paint or spotted upholstery, she is in tip top condition. Caribbean Princess is going in to dry dock in April 2017 to be changed to a Medallion Class ship. She will become completely computerized. The passenger will wear a medallion, either on the wrist, around the neck, on a key fob that will open doors, make reservations, connect internet service, etc. Embarkation Day. I arrived at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport. I had Princess transfers and it was a long wait, about 90 minutes, for the transfer bus. Only a 15 minute ride to the port. When I arrived at the cruise terminal I had asked for wheelchair assistance to get up the gangway. I went to a Princess Representative and he gave me a number and I waited about 30 minutes for a wheelchair, it was first come first serve, even though I had previously made reservations through Princess for the chair. I was brought in to the terminal and up to a handicapped desk and less than 5 minutes later I was being pushed on the ship. Because of my late arrived to the port, from the wait for the transfer bus, I was able to go right to my cabin. Dining. There are three MDRs, Coral, Palms and Island Dining Room. The Coral is for set time dining which is what I booked. I like to eat with the same people every night and get to know them. I have made several friends by doing this. The food was great, I didn’t eat anywhere else, with the exception of the International Café for breakfast pastry in the morning. Every dinner was a different theme, Italian, American, French and it was really great food. Our waiter Pat was fantastic. By the end of the first night he knew all 8 of us, what we drink, what we like and don’t like and it was waiting on the next night, didn’t have to order it. Our assistant waiter was Darwin and he was fantastic too. Never an empty glass or cup, plates cleaned off right away. The only bad meal was the last night, was steak, meatloaf, American food and it arrived cool and the meat was over cooked. Princess Theater. The theater was filled to maximum for every show. Princess had three shows for some of the acts, and they were packed. The comedian, Eric Lyden, I would rate a 6 out of 10, he was just good. The magician, Ben Seidman, was fantastic. He was very young, was a protégé of Chris Angel and was an all-around great entertainer. The Princess dancers and singer shows were good. Casino. The casino was small with only 5 table games and about 200 slot machines. The crew was informative and helpful. Smoking was allowed in the casino. What I didn’t like is passengers that smoke would go into the casino, sit at a slot machine and not play it, but sit there for 30 minutes or more to smoke three or four cigarettes. The casino staff did try to move these passengers along but most of the time the passengers would get ugly and start yelling at the casino staff. For the most part, I have found smokers to be rude, sitting and blowing smoke into my face while I am playing a machine. I have asked them to put the cigarette in the other hand but most will not do it. I am really hoping that all cruise lines go to non-smoking cruises. Debarkation. It was a breeze. Princess offers easy luggage, which means they pick up your luggage at your cabin on the last night and bring it to the airport for you. I didn’t see my luggage until I arrived back in Dallas Fort Worth. The cost is $25 and whatever your airline charges for checked baggage. I have used this service 3 times and will continue to use it. I don’t have to worry about schlepping my luggage around. I wish more airlines and ports would allow for this service. I never saw a wait at Guest Relations or Shore Excursions, mostly about 2 to 3 minutes. The Internet Café was full the last day of the cruise and you had to wait for a computer. The internet was spotty, more passengers using the internet, the harder it was to make and keep an internet connection. The Princess Library was sad. I read every time I cruise and don’t want to carry heavy books with me so I borrow from the ship’s library. There was maybe 150 to 200 books to choose from, not a very good selection. I organized the Meet and Greet for our Cruise Critic Roll Call and about 40 members showed up along with 10 officers, the Hotel Director, Cruise Director, Food and Beverage Manager, Restaurant Manager, Executive Chief, Customer Service Director and the Captain Mario Ciruzzi, the youngest captain in the Princess Fleet. During the Meet and Greet the captain announced that the CDC inspection occurred on embarkation morning and the Caribbean Princess scored 100%, which is a perfect score. The Captain could be found several times around the ship, making sure his presence was known. He was charming and helpful, always stopped to talk to all passengers. I loved my cruise on the Caribbean Princess and am looking for another cruise on her. I think she is the perfect size, a little over 3,000 passengers, good entertainment, great dining places, many things to do and easy navigation of the ship. Ports-Curacao. The first port was Curacao, this was my first time there and it was an extremely beautiful island. I believe there are about 18,000 people living on the island. It has the most beautiful turquoise water. The native people were friendly and helpful. I did a 1 hour trolley ride and got to see the center of the island, not too much to see, but it was beautiful. The Dutch architecture with the Caribbean influence was something to see. Aruba. To me, Aruba, was not as beautiful as Curacao. Pushy vendors at the port terminal. Beautiful beaches, soft powdery sand. Bonaire. Another beautiful island with Dutch and Caribbean influences but if you do not Scuba, Snooba or Dive there really isn’t anything to do on the island. I took a Tuk Tuk tour, about 45 minutes and saw the 3 blocks of the city. We drove back to the ship on a road right by the ocean and the water was so clear I could see bright blue and yellow fish swimming and lots of iguanas. This was an amazing cruise thanks to the ship, the crew, and the ports. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
First time on the Caribbean Princess. Had sailed with Princess on three previous cruises. Generally, crew was good however they were not particularly pleasant or helpful beyond what was required. Crew members did share the ship was ... Read More
First time on the Caribbean Princess. Had sailed with Princess on three previous cruises. Generally, crew was good however they were not particularly pleasant or helpful beyond what was required. Crew members did share the ship was headed for refurbishing (two weeks) in March. Given the worn feel and mechanical problems experienced, should consider major overhaul. Some of the problems experienced with the ship included AC out for a few days in several locations (Fitness Center, one side of buffet seating, theater, etc.) What was surprising was that the crew (main service desk, Horizon buffet, Fitness Center and others) would not acknowledge the problem and expressed little interest in offering any status update.) Cabin toilet out and plumbing problems on the Emerald deck for short time. Horizon & Caribe dining - buffet -- Compared with previous Princess Cruises very little variety of food in buffet. No attempt for artistic or creative presentation of food. No fruit carvings or effort to make buffet attractive. Omelet station had one person taking orders causing a back up with self service toast and a food station located in the same area. Very tight space and confusing. Occurred every morning during breakfast. Food on buffet was often cold and a few of the coffee service dispensers in buffet broken the entire week. Again, compared to other Princess Cruises, very few educational or enrichment classes (e.g. Cooking, making desserts, financial planning.). Sales promotion classes (art enrichment, foot and posture, fitness seminars, face rejuvenation, acupuncture, etc) were in abundance and outnumbered other activities more than 2-1. Most notable was the 700 passengers who had been offered and purchased "Concert At Sea" tickets prior to the cruise, and who participated in multiple "invitation only" shipboard concerts and other events throughout the week. These "invitation only" activities resulted in cancellation and venue changes of regularly scheduled events including the traditional Captains Circle. Other evening shows and events were moved to smaller venues with limited seating. Movies Under The Stars always good. However, couple of pixel sections on screen seemed distorted. Sound quality was terrible. Noting some of the positive things on the cruise. Promenade deck (7) was very nice. Went around the entire ship. Plenty of seats and great view. Ports of call and excursions (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao) were nice compared to other Caribbean locations. Seating in "Island" anytime dining (was very efficient and food service staff were all pleasant). Food quality and presentation in restaurants were good. Entertainment shown in main theater was consistent with previous cruises. Definitely worth seeing. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
I rarely write a bad review but this one is 100% earned. I'm a bit stunned that Princess even allowed this ship to be on the water. The ship is in desperate need of being refurbished. I'm not even sure that's the answer. ... Read More
I rarely write a bad review but this one is 100% earned. I'm a bit stunned that Princess even allowed this ship to be on the water. The ship is in desperate need of being refurbished. I'm not even sure that's the answer. Princess has no business charging its customers the outrageous price that it does for the condition of this ship. Every bathroom that I used smelled like sewage. Especially in the spa. The smell in there was actually repulsive. The toilets weren't working at one time or another. The wear and tear of this ship was just too obvious. The cabins were typical but worn. Especially the mattresses. The entertainment on the ship was very disappointing. Especially in the theatre. Most of the shows in the theatre were lounge acts. The lounge acts were appropriate. We were disappointed that the entertainment department put the NFL playoff game on the big screen outside in the rain and in the cigar room. We spoke to the cruise director who seemed to be clueless of the games importance to their American passengers. My biggest complaint would be the crews attitude. They rarely smiled. But I'm guessing they were as unhappy with the ship as we were. Whatever the case, it certainly wasn't the most friendly crew I've encountered on a cruise. I must admit, the last cruise I was on was the Regal. This ship wasn't even half of their very best! Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We just got back from sailing the Caribbean Princess on an 8-day Southern Caribbean cruise to the “ABC” islands from Ft. Lauderdale and overall had a great time. Background and Overview: My wife (35) and I (41) took this cruise as ... Read More
We just got back from sailing the Caribbean Princess on an 8-day Southern Caribbean cruise to the “ABC” islands from Ft. Lauderdale and overall had a great time. Background and Overview: My wife (35) and I (41) took this cruise as a 10-year anniversary trip. It also marks our second cruise with Princess, the former being our honeymoon cruise in 2007, also on Caribbean Princess, which also happened to be our first cruise. In between those ten years, we’ve sailed exclusively with Celebrity (X) 6 times, though this was our first cruise in 4 years. I wrote CC reviews for each cruise we’ve been on shortly after returning, and thus reflecting the experience at the time. We had an excellent time on this cruise, far better than our first for reason explained below. Also, I feel have more of a comparison with X now, and – with the break in cruises while traveling the world a bit – a better perspective on it all. As a result, I have some thoughts at the end of this very long review on my perspective on Celebrity vs. Princess. During our honeymoon cruise, we remember the fun, but there were literally over 1000 children onboard and it was a tough spring break cruise in that sense. My wife is a school teacher, so we have limited time to go during the school year, but with a few days off during MLK/inauguration week, we were able to make it happen, just we did 4 and 8 years ago. Obviously, very few children on this one—almost assuredly under 100 and probably under 50 of them. Moreover, their presence in terms of issues we had previously was a complete non-factor. Mostly very young and well behaved. The majority of the cruisers were 60-70 year-old baby boomers, with plenty 75+. Not so many sub-55 year-olds (fewer than Celebrity), but we never felt out of place. Over 400 Canadians, and almost 100 Brits, but no significant numbers of other nationalities. Pre-Cruise: we flew night before, and had no issues, from DCA on AA. Was in first class due to relatively small price differences with coach, so that was a nice start. Hotel was the modest Clarion Inn on N. Federal Hwy. in Ft Lauderdale. Nothing to write home about but when the Hampton Inns were pushing $250-$300 a night (a Friday night), a clean (if small and not particularly helpful reception) hotel for $117 AAA member rate, definitely worth it, and made feel better about splurging on first class flights. Went to a non-too impressive Publix about ¾ mile walk (not a bad walk, other than the rain) to get Cherry Coke Zero. Didn’t have tonic water in cans, so picked that up at a nearby liquor store. Took a taxi to Port Everglades pier for about $20. Embarkation: Cab drop off was slightly away from stevedores, but no biggie. Arrived around 11:45am, which was a bit early, but we had to check out of the hotel anyway at 11. Line to get in for non-Select/Elite was very long (took about 30 minutes to enter the building). Fine for us, but it was a bit exhausting for lots of the aforementioned 65+ year-old crowd hauling their carryon luggage. Once through security, there were no issues. Check-in (friendly) took maybe 10 minutes. Then, we walked on the ship (no additional luggage/body screening by Princess, which was nice). Brought in 3 bottles of wine—believe you are only allowed two without corkage fee, but no one was checking anything (other than port security). We drank 2 of the 3 in the dining room, so didn’t matter either way. Cabin: We had a balcony (BD) on the Caribe deck, C702. For those looking to get a sense of the cabin, CruiseTipsTV’s “Cruise Cabin Organization and Stateroom Tour” has an excellent tour of a nearly identical cabin. We greatly prefer this deck as the balconies, though partially exposed, are bigger than on the decks farther up. Also, we prefer being lower, as it limits the motion a bit more, which was significant on the way down. The ship is going into dry dock in March and could use an update to the carpeting, etc., but we found it reasonably well taken care of and clean, considering she’s now over 12 years old. Our cabin steward was a little serious and seemed at times stressed out, but handled all requests very well, and even had a light bulb replaced prior to us asking. I got the sense he was probably spread a bit too thin. One of the rare times I didn’t feel the need to tip beyond the standard amount. Main Dining Room: Had anytime dining, which went well (usually have fixed late seating on X), since we wanted a table for two (we enjoyed sharing tables for breakfast, lunch or tea, but view dinners as special). The first night we showed up around 815 in the Island DR. Had Seksan (Thailand) and his assistant Luis (Peru). Seskan struggled a bit with his English, but clearly warmed up, so we decided to make an informal standing reservation, which the assistant maître d’ (Davide) and his hostess (Lucy) seemed to keep track of superbly. Davide was and only sommelier in Island DR, appreciated a Margaux I had been saving to bring onboard as a 10 year anniversary wine. He brought out a decanter and provided better (bigger) wine glasses, which they set on the table for the remainder of the cruise. Perhaps because we ordered a bottle of wine each night, they weren’t even concerned about the already modest corkage fee for the two formal nights when we brought our own. Seksan made good recommendations and often encouraged us to try something new. He made us a table-side adjusted version of the menu’s pad thai, which we appreciated. By the end of the cruise, we felt like members of a club. Really nice experience, and of course, we tipped them additionally. As for the food, we were rather happy. There were one or two meats that were dry, but presentation and ingredients were impressive. As with X, the portions are reasonable, allowing us to order anywhere from a three to five course meal with a leisurely pace. As always, the meals on formal nights were the most solid. Hit entrees included beef wellington, pheasant, beef tournedos, veal on Italian night, and lamb. “Princess Selection” desserts were definitely a cut above. The only thing I ordered off of the “always available” menu was their cheesecake, which confirmed my previous impression those offerings often are the weakest. All in all, as great an experience as any previous MDR experiences we’ve had. Ultimate Balcony Dining. As superb as or better than remembered. Very nice, a bit extravagant having two dedicated waiters prepare your balcony and serve you course by course. Food was very good, except my lobster was a bit dry (filet mignon was perfectly done) and my wife’s pork chop was sadly very dry (but that was ordered off that evening’s menu, she not being a surf and turf type). Includes cocktails and half bottle champagne, a free photo (we got to choose from 4—be sure to stop by the photo gallery to claim it, as we never got a notice or picture sent to our stateroom) and no corkage fee for wine we brought ourselves. Champagne used to be Moet and Chandon, replaced by something far inferior, but UBD is still a bargain at $100 a couple. James and Kevin from the Philippines, our waiters, were great—even gave us a special Princess “anniversary” dessert, a signed note from the captain. They also eagerly volunteered to take numerous pictures of us with our personal camera (many of which turned out quite good). Obviously, we tipped them considerably. Crown Grill: Did this one night as well. It’s nice—the meats are definitely quality, and the rest of the food seems a little nicer, depending on the dish. Service is attentive and the atmosphere is quieter, like an upscale steakhouse on land, and definitely geared towards tables for 2 or 4. Not sure it’s an absolute must-do, considering it’s (roughly) $60 a couple vs. $100 for UBD and the later includes cocktails, champagne, photos and obviously very specialized service and a unique experience. But still a delightful experience. Other dining: 10 years ago, Scoops used to sell for modest prices Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Now, it’s just (free) and absolutely inedible soft serve. Not worth it under any circumstances. Bought the $31 (plus tip) 15-use punch card for International Café for lattes, espressos, cappuccinos, etc. They seem to use Illy coffee. Significant, but tolerable (5 minutes), lines in the morning. Lines for the pastries/sandwiches, which are fee-free, are usually nonexistent. My wife’s hot chocolate was free due to card, which was nice, because otherwise it’s $1.50. As a result, didn’t use the entire punch card by a long shot. But you can save it for the next cruise, so glad I got it. Only ate at the Horizon Court a couple of times for lunch/breakfast. The waiters/service staff in there were good, but found the menu options a bit limited and seating at times can be hard to find (though staff does their best to clear tables). Activities: I think this is one area in which Princess could improve a bit, especially on sea days. There are just not that many enrichment activities, like lectures on the history of a port or shipbuilding, etc. Sadly, it seems exclusively based on shopping, art auctions, etc. I understand the desire to have revenue generating events, but perhaps a port talk could sell some books on the subject. We did watch some cruise staff games, which are mildly interesting, but there are too few of them. We played Bingo twice ($30 for a full sheet, which my wife and split). Very popular with some serious players. Terrible odds, of course, so it’s only fun if it’s entertaining. We did the “maître d’” wine tasting. Nice wines, but pricey ($25) considering it amounted to – at most – 2 (smaller) glasses of wine. Let’s just say no one walked out of that tasting tipsy. Signed up for the cheaper one ($9.50), though those wines weren’t great. Celebrity definitely does better wine tastings, where you walk around the atrium (or dining room) sampling different wines at “stations.” More interactive, better value, and you get to sample a greater variety. We used the fitness center a few times and didn’t have trouble finding a treadmill for our long runs even on sea days. This is helped by the very well-used and attractive full promenade deck, where the walkers would go around in large numbers. Played two or three times at the casino. The craps table was fine—fun one night and not so much fun another, mainly due to luck and how superstitious/serious the other players are. Some seemed to forget entirely they were on a cruise. Blackjack was OK and the dealers vary in friendliness. The rules aren't the greatest, of course. I would play poker only if there were a live table, so I didn’t do that. When cashing out one night, a cashier tried to hard sell me on buying scratch off lottery tickets to the point of being rather annoying. Entertainment: the evening shows by and large were good, often excellent. The “Bravo” show in particular had wonderful singing and dancing, and they got deserved standing ovations. Comedian Troy Thirdgill was definitely amusing, both his smaller show and his main show. Musician Ric Steel was less to my taste, but many seemed to like his music, and I certainly was not part of the core demographic of this cruise. The only problem with all of these shows is that they literally run out of space in the venues. Not just for good seats, but any seat at all. I think having some more musicians (e.g., a string quartet, pianist) or lounge acts would help free up seating or at least offer more entertainment options to those who can’t get in. We got a photo as part of our Ultimate Balcony Dining. One minor quibble is that we never got a notice to pick up our picture. Quality of the photos was high, but believe the prices to be too high to justify the purchase of them. Understand that there is a "sweet spot" in terms of pricing to optimize revenue when the costs are relatively fixed, so where that is I assume Princess knows better than I do, but $20 a picture is too much for us. Curacao: Walked around colorful Willemstad, having been there once before. Toured the Mikve Israel - Emanuel synagogue (oldest continuous synagogue in New World) and adjacent museum. Small, but worth a visit ($10 entry fee). Had a couple of beers at outdoor café and took advantage of free internet (as were many of the younger, off-duty Princess staff). No deals on duty free liquors and prices generally high, which was actually true for all the ABC islands. So we actually bought 1-liter bottles of Tanqueray and Stolichnaya onboard Princess’s duty free for $18 and $13, respectively, a good bit better than back home, and way better than in port. Aruba. Did Stand Up Paddleboarding tour with Aruba Surf and Paddle School. Perhaps the best shore excursion we’ve ever done. 5 of us, and one was a friend of the fabulous owner/instructor, Dennis. His acclaim on TripAdvisor is very well deserved. About 2-3 hours, including superb instruction from Dennis. A very fair price at $95/person, considering the personalized attention, equipment and patience. Our first time doing it, and we had a blast. Only (minor) downside to the experience was that while paddling under a bridge that was under construction, my wife got relentless (to almost comical levels) catcalls from the Colombian construction workers repelling 50-100 feet above us. Bonaire: One of the few new Caribbean ports for us. Definitely a favorite. Not as poor as some, and not as built up as the richer ones (like Aruba). Booked Compass Bonaire half-day sail and snorkel independently for $55/person (like Aruba, found them highly reviewed on TripAdvisor). Another great experience. We later realized that they had a boat that served Princess bookings, which was rather crowded looking at about 20 people (and if I recall, more expensive). Evidently, our boat was supposed to have 11, but a group didn’t want to split up between our boat and the other. As a result, we were a group of 4, and the other couple simply wanted to sail, so we literally had two snorkel guides to ourselves. Impressive coral, very water clear the day we went, and a good variety of fish, though we saw only one (sleeping) sea turtle. The Dutch crew of 3 was very friendly and laid back. They offered us a light lunch and beer/rum punch, etc. on the return. 11 people on the boat might have made it a bit more crowded than I would have preferred, but certainly could have handled 8 with no problem. Highly recommended. Disembarkation: This was very smooth. After breakfast in the MDR, went to our assigned location and for our group to be called. They organize luggage well and it was relatively easy to find. Went through customs/immigration in 5 minutes. On the paperwork for disembarkation, Princess said we ought to consider buying transfers to FLL (something like $10-$15 person) since a taxi line “might be 1-2 hours”. Since I knew a cab would be cheaper and our flight wasn’t until early afternoon, I wasn’t too concerned. It turns out the only line was the queue of taxis waiting for passengers. Made it to FLL in 10 minutes. Then returned to reality, such as the overcrowded FLL airport, which I remember being unpleasant from 10 years ago. Also included getting bumped out of first class on the return due to American Airlines overbooking. It was an enormous hassle even getting a confirmed seat in coach. Got a voucher and currently waiting to for a partial refund. Hence, any quibbles about our cruise should be taken as extraordinarily minor. Tips. After each cruise, I think I learn a few tips to save for the next trip. Before providing mine, I would encourage readers to consider viewing the cruisetipstv youtube channel. Sheri has a wonderful set of links that even “seasoned” cruisers like I found valuable. That said, here are the ones I found helpful for this cruise: • Pre-order bottled water if you want it ($6.90 including tip for 500ml 12-pack. We ordered 2 of them in advance (24 bottles). Once you get onboard, they’re $2.30 each). You can bring your own, but it was already too heavy to carry Coke Zero and tonic as is through the long security line at embarkation, so glad we did. • Bring on your own soda (if you drink it), as it’s expensive/inconvenient if you do it on board (unless you get the soda package, which still isn’t cheap at $8/day). • Mainly for men: a cruise Card/ID/money holder—forgot it and missed it. X gives them for Concierge Class. Far easier than bringing the whole wallet around the ship. • Women (and men) with long hair: bring your own hairdryer. My wife says the ones on cruise ships are useless. After returning to Princess, I feel we have a good sense of how it rates vs. Celebrity. Of course, we have not sailed on all the ships, so this is primarily a comparison Caribbean Princess (and likely its sister ships) and the Millennium-class ships on Celebrity: Things about Princess we like better (in rough order of importance): • Ultimate Balcony Dining • One MDR is open for lunch every day (including embarkation day), with the possible exception of one port day. Hate that it wasn’t on our Celebrity cruises. Also Princess had an English pub-style lunch (fish and chips, bangers and mash, etc.) in Crown Grill one sea day (no fee, beyond beers, etc.). Having more options than the buffet at lunch is huge, at least on sea days! • Bigger balconies on Caribe deck. • Decent sized refrigerator in cabin (not a minibar, as on X). • Self-service laundry (not super cheap at $3.00 each wash or dry load, but very convenient and found an empty one multiple times). • More waiters/assistant waiters in MDR. Seems like they’re spread less thinly on Princess. Believe this is due to fewer sommeliers. I think on the whole that’s probably the right decision. • Afternoon tea every day • Lower corkage fees • A seemingly minor point, but they do a better job with drink/wine/specialty restaurant purchases. They just swipe your card and that’s it. On X, they bring back something that requires a signature for even the most trivial (e.g., a can of soda). More annoyingly, X has a space for “additional gratuity” which feels like you’re not tipping if you leave it blank. Princess just does the standard 15%. When compelled to leave additional tips (as I did for two comped drinks, specialty restaurants, a good buffet waiter), I left money in cash. Things about Celebrity we like better: • MDR food is (on average) slightly better (more interesting), but very close. Everything else (buffet, room service, etc.) seems significantly better on Celebrity. Pizza is about the same (neither I love, but slightly better on Princess). Buffet ice cream (not MDR dessert) is flat out gross on Princess (worse than McDonald’s soft serve). Pretty decent on X, and it’s made themselves. • Less crowded public spaces on Celebrity. Often difficult to find chairs in the various public rooms (theater, lounges, public spaces) on Princess. One night we showed up for the late (10pm) show at and there was literally not a single seat and about 30 people standing up, and tons of us just giving up. Happened previously, but we were early enough that we got seats in the back. Also happened in some of the lounges too at times. On X, this was never an issue. Dining rooms on X also have more space between tables, it seems. • The crowd is slightly younger and healthier on X. In both cases, we’re relatively “young”, which is fine, and I’m certainly not asking for kids. But more 30/40 somethings as well as spry 60 year olds on X. More slightly slower and older crowd on Princess with perhaps more health problems. Of course, each cruise itinerary is different. This probably skewed a bit older than equivalent X cruises during same time of year due to those being out of San Juan (therefore, more flying) and I would guess the older crowd prefers more sea days to active port days. • Enrichment activities (like lectures, etc.). I think Celebrity has fallen a bit in recent times, but I recall very good ones on our Alaskan and one or two Caribbean cruises. Princess doesn’t have very much in this regard. For instance, the only one I even noticed was a lecture on the history of rock n roll, which sounded possibly great, but it was at 9:30am on the first sea day. Things about equal between Princess and Celebrity: • Service is a little more formal/better trained/refined on X, though perhaps friendlier on Princess. But really, it’s basically the same. Both generally very good (especially MDR, specialty restaurants, cabin stewards), but on both, you run across exceptions (international café, some bar staff, etc.). • Evening entertainment. Catered to roughly the same tastes. At least Princess doesn’t have an a capella quartet, which I’ve never liked. More comedians on Princess, it seems. Slightly livelier and more lavish production shows on X, but very close. • Décor/condition of the ships. I would actually give a slight advantage to X for this because it’s more modern and stylish, but I recognize this is personal taste. The cabins generally look better on X, but I actually find the balcony cabins on Princess slightly more functional (except for the too small shower). • Hard-selling of (especially) non-cruise related goods (e.g., jewelry, art auctions, etc.). In the past, I would probably have given the nod to X, but on our last cruise, they seemed at least as bad as Princess. I actually don’t mind it that much provided there are more enriching activities on sea days, which I believe Celebrity still gets a slightly better ranking for. Either way, it’s usually tolerable for us. • Wine list. X has a broader selection, but also higher prices. Princess is more limited, but well represented and fair prices. So perhaps slight nod to Princess. Princess has better beer selection. Our cocktails are usually limited to gin and tonics on cruises, but I find on ships cocktails can wilt quickly due the ice not being as cold as it needs to be. Final Thoughts: We had a wonderful return to Princess and think four years in between cruises is likely too long. We don’t know where or when our next cruise will be, but we’re certainly going to look for a variety of options, including Alaska, Canadian Maritimes, or even Norwegian fjords, and Princess is certainly an attractive candidate cruise line. We still have a $100 deposit on Celebrity from four years ago, but the offer through Princess was less tempting (expires (but refundable), and the credit is smaller). As for the Caribbean, the latest we plan to be back is on a similar cruise four years from now during the next inauguration… Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Background Information We chose this cruise as we had Future Cruise Credits that were expiring, and the itinerary was very appealing. We had only been to Curacao once and Aruba for only a half day. We liked the order of the 2 sea ... Read More
Background Information We chose this cruise as we had Future Cruise Credits that were expiring, and the itinerary was very appealing. We had only been to Curacao once and Aruba for only a half day. We liked the order of the 2 sea days, 3 ports, and 2 sea days, and the More Ashore time in Curacao and Aruba was very unique. Travel to Embarkation Port By almost minutes to spare, we beat the arriving ice storm in St.Louis flying out to FLL the day before the cruise. Our new winter travel policy will be to leave 2 days in advance - it was way too stressful leading up to our departure! Hotel Information This time we tried out the Holiday Inn Express 17th Street for our pre-cruise night stay. Hotel prices were absolutely insane for some reason this weekend, so we opted to redeem IHG Guest Rewards points for a free night stay. The hotel is undergoing a large expansion - if existing guest room refurbishment is part of the project, then our room had not yet been renovated. Definite wear & tear signs in the bathroom especially. But the room was clean, the bed was comfortable, and the hotel is ideally located close to the port with lots of dining and shopping nearby. Embarkation Used Uber XL to get to the port. Cost about $8. Definitely the way to go vs hotel shuttle service. Arrived at port 10:15 am - we ignored Princess' new staggered boarding arrival time procedure which said for cabins on Aloha deck arrive between 12:30 and 1:00. I want to have the benefit of my Captains Club status, get any sign ups for onboard stuff done, and just maximize my time on the ship - it's part of the cruise I've paid for! They opened the doors to the terminal at 11:00. We got thru check-in and we were in the upstairs waiting area by 11:20. We started boarding by 11:45am, and all cabins were ready upon boarding. We started checking off our embarkation to-dos, unpacked our carry-on luggage in our cabin, and then headed up to Lido Deck for lunch. Our suitcases were delivered in our cabin when we returned from lunch. Muster drill was at 3:30pm, and sailaway was at 4:15pm. Then we headed to Outrigger Bar for the Cruise Critic sailaway party. Ship Information This was our first time on Caribbean Princess. She has some layout & features that are different from other similar ships in the fleet. Most notably the Piazza area is smaller - I don't know that claustrophobic is the right word but it's definitely compressed. There is no gelato at the International Cafe. The Princess brand merchandise gift shop (Calypso Cove) is the tiniest I have ever seen. So I certainly prefer the Piazza on the Gem class and of course the super size Piazza on the Royal class. Caribbean is now 13 yrs old. Showing wear & tear that you might expect. Areas of the ship seemed to have air conditioning challenges. Most if not all of the women's toilets by the Princess Theater weren't working. Caribbean is due for a dry dock in March so some of these issues should be addressed then hopefully. Shipboard announcements were made a few times on every sea day about activities onboard, including shopping and art auctions. One of the things that I dislike about Princess. Smoking is allowed in the casino and the areas outside reeked of it! It's also allowed on the port side of Skywalkers at night, so stay on the starboard side. Sabatini's has not been replaced with SHARE on this ship. Internet speed was usually decent to good on sea days. This was our first cruise getting to use Princess At Sea - the browser based app. We liked being able to view all the events and add to our personal event list those we were interested in (although there are some quirky user interface issues with custom events that IT quality assurance apparently missed!). We did think the messenger feature would be more useful if you could get audible/vibrate notifications on your device when someone messages you. Activities We had our Cruise Critic Meet & Greet in Skywalkers Lounge at noon on the first sea day. Had a nice size turnout and was pleased to see several of the officers/staff attend including the hotel director, entertainment director (the new position Princess just created across the fleet), and the cruise director. Played most of the morning and afternoon sessions of bingo on sea days. Bingo is held in Club Fusion, and they have a happy hour from 3pm-4pm buy one get one for $1. If you don't have the all-inclusive beverage package, this is a good deal! Skywalkers Lounge does a similar promotion from 11pm-Midnight every night. Went to Zumba class a couple times - it was offered once each sea day morning in Club Fusion. Attended the Disney trivia session and no surprise our team won! We each got a Princess Cruises carabiner as our fabulous prize. Entertainment We listened to the Crooners Bar piano player Brian Johnson a couple times before/after dinner. At Movies Under the Stars (MUTS), we saw the Packers-Cowboys divisional playoff game and two movies - The Magnificent Seven and Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. For some reason, they don't put the MUTS seat covers on the pool loungers. So everyone had to go get pool towels since the cushions were often damp from an earlier rain shower. Yet another weirdness about this specific ship. You could check out a MUTS blanket if you needed one. Saw the 9:15 show in Explorers Lounge with the comedian Troy Thirdgill. It was standing wall to wall with overflow into the hallway. He was pretty funny. Went to the 10:00pm show in the Princess Theater with comedian Troy Thirdgill. It was a packed house for his second night. Saw the production show Bravo which was new to us. It's just a revue of movie & Broadway tunes so no plot or theme, but lots of pretty dresses and the singing talent was quite good. Watched the Formal Gala Balloon Drop Party in the Piazza. On the last night of the cruise, we went to the International Crew Show in the Princess Theater. We always enjoy seeing the crew show. Dining Breakfast - We ate either in Horizon Court or had a lighter breakfast with a couple goodies from the International Cafe. Be sure to try the Chocolate Journeys chocolate & vanilla Breton - the inner chocolate filling is really good so definitely try this little oat cake! Lunch - On sea days, we would get pizza from Prego Pizzeria, selections from International Cafe or Horizon Court, or featured theme items in Cafe Caribe (Pasta Buffet, Asian - but no sushi was offered which was disappointing, Tex-Mex). On the 3rd sea day, they offered the Pub Lunch (but in Crown Grill instead of the Wheelhouse Bar like we're used to). We ate on-shore during our three port days - see port section for more info. Dinner - We had Anytime Dining as usual and ate in the dining room three times: 1) Embarkation Night - Tonight we went to the Coral Dining Room just after 7pm and had no wait to join a table of 6. I had the red snapper mojito ceviche starter, the frozen rum-infused piña colada soup, and the always available fettuccine alfredo (a Princess classic). Scott had the fuente de camarones al ajillo (aka garlic shrimp) starter, the smoked haddock and potato chowder, and the basa fish with pineapple-papaya salsa. For dessert, we both had the milky chocolate-hazelnut soufflé. This was one of the best dinners we had in the dining room. 2) Second Sea Day - Had an early dinner in the Coral Dining Room - arrived around 5:45 and waited about 15 min for a table for 2. I had the caribbean shrimp cocktail starter, seasonal field greens salad, and grilled seafood skewer with mango and lime salsa. Scott had the chicharrones de pollo starter, Bahamian pea soup n' dough boy, and roasted pork belly (Curtis Stone featured item). 3) Bonaire - Went to the Island Dining Room around 7:00 and had a short wait to be seated. Tonight's dinner theme was the Chef's Dinner. I had the twice baked goat cheese soufflé starter, Scott had the coconut red snapper ceviche starter, and we both had the seared diver scallops entree. For dessert, I had the chocolate lovers delight (dark chocolate truffle mousse, tiny gateau opera, hazelnut chocolate parfait) and Scott had the chocolate peanut butter ice cream. Another excellent meal in the dining room. One of the perks we got with booking this cruise was one free specialty dining so we opted to use it for Crown Grill since it was Formal Night again. Scott had the Black Tiger Prawn and Papaya Salpicon starter, the Shrimp & Pancetta Bisque soup, and the Ribeye steak with loaded baked potato and grilled asparagus. I had the Pan-Seared Pacific Scallops starter, the Marinated Goat Cheese & Heirloom Tomato Salad, and the 4oz Maine Lobster Tails. I could/should have ordered sides as well or even another seafood entree, as the lobster tails don't come with any side and strangely our waiter didn't mention this or ask me if I'd like other sides. For dessert, we both ordered the Chocolate Journeys featured item Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar - this was the finest Chocolate Journeys item we had all cruise! We ate on-shore in Curacao and Aruba - see port section for more info. The remaining nights we kept it super casual and just got food in Horizon Court or pizza from Prego Pizzeria to eat on deck while watching MUTS. Dessert/Snacks - Horizon Court for Chocolate Journeys dessert almond chocolate coffee cake and Chocolate Journeys white chocolate mousse cake, International Cafe for white & chocolate mousse parfait, Scoops for soft serve cones/milkshakes and popcorn, We attended the Elite/Suite/Platinum Cocktail Party three times during the cruise. The food action station varied each night - the nights we went it was "Authentic Mexican Salsa with Tortilla Chips", "Herb-Marinated Goat's Cheese w/ Crisp Rosemary Flatbread and Tomato Bruschetta", and "Shrimp Fountain w/ American Cocktail Sauce". Very pleased to see that the $5 drink special was no longer restricted to one specific drink for that night and if you don't go to the party that night you miss your chance. All 8 of the specials are available every night there's a party. Port & Shore Excursions Curacao We did an all day customized private tour with Gaby Lieuw of Sand & Stilletos.com. She took us to Christoffel National Park, a few beaches and scenic lookouts, one of the flamingo areas, lunch, and through a couple of the renovated neighborhoods that are part of the Unesco World Heritage Area. Outstanding tour - I really feel like I have a good appreciation for the island. Gabby was a great tour guide and well worth the $100pp cost. Regarding lunch, Gaby took us to a totally off the beaten path fisherman's wharf shack called Purunchi. For a steal of $34, Scott had a whole lion fish and I had a huge wahoo filet plus rice, salad, and lemonade. This is truly a place only found with the help of a local. Had dinner ashore at Gouverneur de Rouville right along the Willemstad waterfront. We had a goat cheese appetizer, I had the goat curry, and Scott had the steak special. Entrees were served with sides of cheesy potatoes, rice with beans, and roasted vegetables. Everything was excellent. Plus free wifi. Aruba We did the ship's excursion to De Palm Island. It's an all inclusive food & drink (incl alcoholic) beach getaway. Lunch was a Caribbean buffet with cold salads, chicken, grouper, pastas, rice, soup, and fruits. Snorkeling was included if you wanted. There were other free amenities (pool, water slides, zip line) as well as for a fee (helmet diving, massage). There is a turtle exhibit and a peacock exhibit. There were plenty of lounge chairs, and we were able to get chairs under a palapa. There were a few families, but it was mostly adults and it wasn't too crowded. The water area is shallow and it's rocky on the bottom so definitely plan to wear water shoes. We had a relaxing beach day which is exactly what I was looking to do in Aruba. Had dinner ashore at The Dutch Pancake House in the Renaissance Marketplace outdoor shopping mall. I had the Egyptian savory pancake and Scott had the Weinar Alt schnitzel. Both were gigantic and inexpensive. Plus free wifi. Bonaire In the morning, we went into town and did some shopping in a couple of the stores as well as at the open air market tents with local vendors in the central plaza. The downtown shopping are is more quaint than the more commercialized versions in Aruba or Curaçao. We had an afternoon snorkeling excursion with Woodwind. It was a short walk to the Divi Flamingo Casino which is where Woodwind's office / meeting point is located. There were about 25 people all of whom were from the ship. Woodwind is the #1 rated attraction on TripAdvisor and gets top accolades on Cruise Critic. We had wanted to book the morning tour, but it was fully booked when I had tried to make reservations. We found out when we arrived that 6 people were no shows for the morning - what inconsiderate behavior! Contrary to the email confirmation, they didn't take the payments before we started so we all boarded the catamaran. It took us over an hour to sail out to the Klein Bonaire Marine Park even though the island is only 5 miles off shore. During that time though, the three snorkel guides spent time with each of us choosing what snorkeling equipment we wanted to use. They have it all and you can get whatever you wanted - fins, half and full wetsuits, UV/rash guard tshirts, regular snorkel masks (with or with out prescriptions if you don't wear contacts, new full face masks that allow you to breathe thru your nose normally, head coverings, flotation belts, and noodles. I tried the full face mask as I have had trouble mastering the mouth breathing required with a normal mask. I loved the full face mask! I could relax and focus on enjoying all the fantastic sea creatures. Scott tried a prescription mask which worked well although he would sacrifice a little fuzzy vision for the ease of the full face mask next time. After getting everyone equipped, the lead guide Dee gave us snorkeling tips. Then we we were separated into three groups, each with a guide, and each group started getting into the water. Dee put us in her group since we were some of the least experienced snorkelers. The water temperature was very pleasant. Snorkeling in the Klein Bonaire park requires less effort because of the current or drift. I see why Bonaire is so highly rated for scuba & snorkeling! We saw an amazing variety of fish, sea cucumbers, and even a small reef turtle, and of course the coral reef. Dee would free dive to point out specific types of marine life. There was also a underwater photographer who went around taking photos of us and the marine life. We had about an hour in the water. After we got back on the catamaran we could have drinks of our choice and they served us a plate of local style meats, veggies, and noodles. We also could review the photos taken and if we wanted to purchase they were put on a USB thumb drive for $40. We chose to buy them since we forgot to check the battery on our waterproof camera we brought and it was dead. We also paid for the excursion $55pp on the return sail back - they take cash or VISA/MasterCard. We got back to shore and walked back to the ship by 4:20 just in time for all aboard at 4:30. We highly recommend Woodwind and would definitely do another snorkeling tour with them again in Bonaire. Overall, we really liked this island and will look forward to future cruises that feature this port stop. Disembarkation Since Regal Princess was in port with us they were docked at Princess' usual Terminal 2. We came in at Terminal 21 - first time we've been over on that side of Port Everglades. We had arranged the Princess transfer to FLL airport - probably last time we will do that since it costs $19pp and you end up being at the airport way too early for an afternoon flight. We will try Uber XL next time. We were in Aqua 1 so we spent less than 5 min in the Platinum Disembarkation Lounge before they called our group at 7:55am. We used the new Mobile Passport app (though we also had our Global Entry cards) and breezed thru customs by 8:10am. We got to the airport by 8:30am - plenty of time for our 12:15 flight. Service I heard some people complaining about the level of service they received from their cabin steward or the dining staff. Personally I didn't have any real issues. Our cabin steward Raul attended to the couple special requests we had, and he always kept our cabin well serviced. The dining staff in Horizon Court were usually very prompt in getting our desired beverages. And with a couple exceptions, we had good service in the bars & lounges. Tips & Tricks If you are Platinum status in Captains Circle, booking an 8n vs 7n cruise gets you 100 extra free Internet minutes. If you want complete privacy on your balcony, pick Riviera, Aloha, or Baja deck over Caribe or Dolphin, as the decks are terraced and Riviera/Aloha/Baja are completely covered from above. Contrary to the description of the Unlimited Soda & More beverage package, shakes & malts at Scoops ice cream are still included. Never miss the soufflés if they are offered on the main dining room dessert menu! Chips & salsa are usually offered during the afternoon snack lineup in Horizon Court. Use a bowl for the chips and a soup bowl for the salsa ("soup bowl salsa" as my husband coined it). If you don't mind ship motion, Skywalkers is a good place for daytime reading. On the quieter side unless there are some chatty groups or a game is taking place up there. Formal Night dress code doesn't apply to the specialty restaurants. Final Thoughts This was our 9th Princess cruise, so it always feels like "coming home". Sometimes we book a cruise for the itinerary primarily, sometimes for the ship, and sometimes for both. In this case, it was the itinerary: getting all three ABC islands with two having "More Ashore" time and bookended with 2 sea days is a really fantastic itinerary. The itinerary really made this cruise standout. We hadn't sailed on Caribbean Princess before so we got to check that box. However compared to other Princess ships we've sailed on like Royal, Ruby, and Emerald, Caribbean doesn't stack up as well. I much prefer the amenities, ship design, and public area space of these other ships, so Caribbean will be pretty low on my list for a repeat cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
This cruise was selected by group consensus primarily based on port locations and cost. As I never had been on a Princess Cruise, we did not know what to really expect. I have been on other cruises with Carnival (Tropicale, Liberty), ... Read More
This cruise was selected by group consensus primarily based on port locations and cost. As I never had been on a Princess Cruise, we did not know what to really expect. I have been on other cruises with Carnival (Tropicale, Liberty), Celebrity (Eclipse), and Royal Caribbean, (Independence of the Seas) we found many things about Princess (Caribbean Princess), which was very good and some things not so good. I will say that this particular's ship's staff was very friendly and professional and based great emphasis on customer service and satisfaction. The ship itself was clean and well maintained. The Horizon Buffet's food was very good as compared to other cruises for both breakfast and lunch. Our evening dining at 5:45 in the Palm Dining room featured excellent service and varied food choices. As I discovered, the appetizers, salads, soups, together with the fish and pasta main courses and desserts were excellent, but the meat dishes, specifically the Beef Wellington and Sirloin Steak, were tough with little taste. The head maître'd Giovanni was excellent and attentive. He made the overall dining experience very special. I recommend breakfast and 3pm Tea in the Coral Dining room. The International cafe's food, drink selections, and atmosphere was quite enjoyable. Entertainment/Activities: Overall there was too much emphasis on raffles, promotions, and so-called special sales which started as soon as we got to buffet on the first day. The continuous attention to up-selling specific products such as liquors, clothing, sunglasses, jewelry, etc was annoying. They had a (2) hour show in the theater to discuss the ports and excursions, but in reality, it was a sales pitch on jewelry, clothing, and other products with little or no information on the islands we were visiting or excursions. The ships own band and production staff, (singers and dancers), were excellent and provided better shows in the evening than the entertainers brought onto the ship with the exception of the comedian. I felt that the logistics associated with entertainment schedules in the evening were not well planned. We usually encountered lounges with very little seating availability. The theatre seats always filled up quickly. Ship was not designed to handle greater capacity cruises. Casino area was small and not happy to see that they allowed smoking !! Princess sponsored excursion filled up quickly and there was very little staff on the ship to assist with exclusion questions, they basically wanted guests to book online. Ports were good, enjoyed Curacao and Aruba the best, our snorkeling excursion on Bonaire, which was off a boat, was cancelled at the last minute which left us without any similar snorkeling options. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
WHILE the newest debuting Princess ships certainly have their sparklingly innovative features, it was quite a restorative pleasure sailing on a ship which has become a good familiar friend over the years, the CARIBBEAN PRINCESS. ... Read More
WHILE the newest debuting Princess ships certainly have their sparklingly innovative features, it was quite a restorative pleasure sailing on a ship which has become a good familiar friend over the years, the CARIBBEAN PRINCESS. Actually, I remember sailing her right after her 2011 refit, when she was first decked out with her dolphin-themed Piazza area with with iridescent columns and its tiled walkways leading to the different shops. It was fun to see that central area still looking bright and shiny, Mediterranean and inviting. Additionally, she's actually had several small face-lifts since then, including fresh jewel-toned carpet medallions in front of the elevators, and the public areas are being beautifully kept up. And on our cruise, the Ice Cream Shop was just about to be ripped out and put in again in a updated style. Don't you love how Princess cabins have a wonderful familiarity to them? So, as you unpack, you find yourself putting things easily in the same places in the cabin and bath as you have for years, as if you had done it just last week. One advantage to a familiar older ship was a little more space---we enjoyed small gratuitous expanses hither and yon in the public areas, which have now been re-deployed into snugger designs in later ships---and we found the Caribbean Princess has slightly more spacious hallways leading from the public areas. OUR CABIN was a familiar one from a previous sailing, with a lovely view in Fort Lauderdale across the shimmering river to the Causeway where we would turn and enter the ocean. Gentle Reader --this sailing reminded us of such an important Cruise Lesson---it's a good idea to come in the day before. As we transferred over from another year's wonderfully relaxing stay at the Embassy Suites, we realized that tragedy had struck the Fort Lauderdale Airport---a crazy man had pulled a gun out of his checked baggage, killing 5 people, injuring 8 others. At our scheduled Sail-Away time, we were missing 121 people. The ship continued to wait at the dock, hoping for them to arrive until after 9:30 p.m. Even then, we departed with 37 missing and dozens without their luggage. Many passengers and much luggage arrived at the first port. PRINCESS handled the crisis beautifully and, because the Captain kept us abreast in announcements, we could surround our fellow passengers in good cheer and heartfelt prayer. Being at sea was a particularly beautiful experience this year, with the ship sailing south and entering the warm waters of the West Indies. ANTIGUA was a new port-stop for us, and we enjoyed a ship's excursion to orient us to the highlights of the island, including the historic Nelson's British Naval Dockyards National Museum ,which has a hotel inside it we would like to visit again. Another stop, at Shirley Heights, provided an opportunity to photograph the Georgian dockyards from high above in the local hills. We could also see an impressive compound built by Eric Clapton, who also built for the island a rehab hospital. ST. KITTS has a relatively new dock with a bright raspberry-colored roof and much re-building since the last hurricane damage they sustained. We enjoyed large white migratory birds which were filling the trees, as they rested on the island on the island for a few days in transit. While friends at our dining table tried out a Zip-Lining adventure, we took a leisurely ship's excursion up into the cool, breezy hills to visit the historical Fairview Great House and Botanical Gardens. The lay of the land with ocean waves coming into natural inlets was beautiful to behold from a photo stop on our panoramic drive. ST. THOMAS was beautiful as ever, such a lovely marina. And GRAND TURK, with its multi-faceted cruise venue, where it feels like the ship pulls right up and docks at a Caribbean beach with a nearby Margaritaville & pool, was one of the reasons we chose this sailing. Days at sea watching the ocean tumble out the back of the ship as we lounged in chaises around the Aft Adult Pool were particularly restorative and appreciated this year. The last few sunrises enjoyed there were exquisite as well---and it was good to be able to book for next year and know we are coming back. Planning for a cruise is half the fun. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
I had work on this cruise, which is how my family ended up on this particular one. But we are now hooked on Princess, and we would recommend this cruise to others. The islands we visited were incredible, the cruise ship was fun with an ... Read More
I had work on this cruise, which is how my family ended up on this particular one. But we are now hooked on Princess, and we would recommend this cruise to others. The islands we visited were incredible, the cruise ship was fun with an amazing staff, and we enjoyed ourselves! The food could be better in the main dining rooms... it's not exciting enough for our palettes but the "pay extra" restaurants were absolutely incredible and worth every dime. Our cabin stewart went out of his way for us every day. And the people we met on the ship were so nice. The entertainment staff and events were really fun. The ship was clean, comfortable and we wished for nothing while we were at sea. The band on board was great (Evolution) and the mood was festive. We loved Curocao and Bonaire islands. We heard this ship was being "updated with a facelift" soon, which seems like a good idea to modernize it. But it's a great cruise! Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Took the 8 day cruise to the ABC islands. We were very satisfied. Princess does a nice job. Importantly we didn't feel badgered by announcements about sales that is a problem on other lines. Ship-Very well maintained and ... Read More
Took the 8 day cruise to the ABC islands. We were very satisfied. Princess does a nice job. Importantly we didn't feel badgered by announcements about sales that is a problem on other lines. Ship-Very well maintained and clean. Yes some new carpet and furnishings would be nice but no where were the current ones so worn as to be a problem. Besides who goes on a cruise to look at carpet? Cabin-After somewhere around a 100 cruises I can say that the "C" deck cabins on this ship with the extended balcony that is 1/2 covered and 1/2 open are the best non suite cabins I have ever seen. Also love the open closet set up which provides a lot of space. The bath is small and shower curtain can be a problem but overall these are the best standard cabins at sea. Crew-Other then a small issue with a bartender not wanting to give us a couple of empty glasses to use in the room the crew was GREAT! Had an issue upon our return that we needed to get off early and the crew was very helpful. Dining room and room attendant were among the best ever. Food-Crown grill was very good with one of the best steaks I have ever had. I did feel that it was slightly understaffed for the number of diners, but overall the service was good (not great). The other food was, well it was what cruise food is now days, some was good, some was average. None was great and none was poor. It meet our expectations. International Cafe is billed as 24 hr. Went down one morning at 3:30 a.m. and it was basicly shut down. A couple, as is 2, old sandwiches and it was going to be 5 before the breakfast items were out. Shows-Only attend the two comedy shows, both were very good. Casino-Guys hosting the blackjack and slot tournaments were very good and friendly. Ports- All three were right downtown and easy to walk to around in. Passengers-This time of year (early Dec.) and this line it is an older crowd. Average age of 65+. There were a some people in the Disco each night but overall it was a pretty sedate group. Only a half dozen or so kids on the entire ship. Overall we were very pleased Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Everything was perfect from the moment we boarded until we departed 14 days later. Our mini-suite, the steward, the Coral dining room, the Casino and the staff. All were great and made our cruise very special. Our only problem was that ... Read More
Everything was perfect from the moment we boarded until we departed 14 days later. Our mini-suite, the steward, the Coral dining room, the Casino and the staff. All were great and made our cruise very special. Our only problem was that my wife was in a wheelchair and there were no excursions for the disabled. Thanks to our steward Francisco who really helped us. I would recommend this ship to anyone. This is our seventh princess cruise and we fully intended to book another Princess cruise in the coming year. The food in the dining room was great. we only went to the Horizon Court a few times but we enjoyed our meals there too. Princess has really figured out the embarkation and the disembarkation. With my wife wheelchair they made it really easy. Thanks again Princess. We look forward to perhaps going on the Alaskan trip next year or maybe the Canadian voyage. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We decided on this cruise because of the itinerary. The ports we stopped at were welcoming and beautiful. I wish the same could be said about our overall experience on the boat. The main problem was bad customer service throughout the ... Read More
We decided on this cruise because of the itinerary. The ports we stopped at were welcoming and beautiful. I wish the same could be said about our overall experience on the boat. The main problem was bad customer service throughout the entire staff. I work in customer service and understand how rude people can be but the staff seemed irritated and over us the moment we set foot on the ship. We thought maybe it was a cruise with a lot of trainees on it but we asked around and this wasn't the case. My husband and I were looking to just enjoy ourselves and reconnect with each other. We have cruised a lot but not as much as some of our fellow cruisers. We have also gone on over four different cruise lines. So we have equal status on many lines. The fellow passengers we cruised with were older/retirement age and were completely loyal only to Princess. They seemed to be immune to the lack of customer service. I know no cruise line is perfect but our experience with Princess this time made us feel like we wasted our money and vacation time cruising with them. My husband purchased a drink package for me which turned ou to be a big mistake. I thought the gesture was nice except I couldn't get service most of the time. I mean whether we were laying out at the pool or anywhere for that sake the lack of service was the same. I had to go get 95% of my drinks. I was at the bar so much the bartender questioned me as to why I came up so much. I told him and he just gave me a 2nd drink for later. Please understand yes there were beverage staff walking around but they were talking to each other or ignoring passengers not serving us. Also the quality of the drinks were bad. The bartenders were horrible at making drinks and I'm talking about the drinks they advertised on the boat. I was asked several times about how the drink of the day was made. We would visit different dining rooms and they all had different beverage choices. So if I had a drink in one dining room I couldn't get the same drink in a different one. Oh the food was average but the specialty dining was above average. The service was also better in the specialty dining restaurants. I'm really sorry but cruising isn't cheap. I'm very disappointed in how unwelcoming the staff was. The entertainment was lacking big time. I've definitely seen better. I really feel like the cruise was for an older crowd. The onboard activities were lacking also. The fitness center was great and overall the boat was beautiful. Oh most of the public bathrooms were broken or dirty. That was a disappointing discovery. I just went back to my stateroom to use the bathroom. I walked into some really disgusting bathrooms day1-4. The public bathrooms being dirty was surprising. I mean with all the illnesses going around I'd think they would take better care of public areas. I wish I could be more positive about my experience but I'm only being truthful. We will probably not take a chance on Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
this is our second cruise with princess. /could not get walker through doorway/dining room staff excellent, michael & alejandro very attentive to our needs/ churchill lounge bartender excellent customer relations/ also deck attendant ... Read More
this is our second cruise with princess. /could not get walker through doorway/dining room staff excellent, michael & alejandro very attentive to our needs/ churchill lounge bartender excellent customer relations/ also deck attendant 17 hard worker/,Gemma room steward was very helpful and pleasant/. trivia challenges were good, some more difficult than others/port tours were good/ last day sales were good/art auctions and classes very interesting/our cabin had a balcony do not know what category/ December is not a good month as sea was rough/ princess theater shows were all of good quality / show Ocean Voice gave passengers a chance to participate and contestants all did well/hello i have few words /other passengers were quite nice/ lots of people from other countries talking sharing tables/ getting off and on were ok/ most meals were excellent accept veal was noit/ salmon was excellent/ princess love boat brownie was delicous/thank you /merry christmas Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We choose this cruise for the 8 night itinerary to the ABC Islands. Our cabin A632 from the moment we entered the room, the toilet did not flush properly. Sometimes it would flush, but most of the time it took anywhere from 5 minutes to ... Read More
We choose this cruise for the 8 night itinerary to the ABC Islands. Our cabin A632 from the moment we entered the room, the toilet did not flush properly. Sometimes it would flush, but most of the time it took anywhere from 5 minutes to over an hour to flush. We started with our room steward and escalated to Warren manager at front desk. The plumber supposedly tried several times to fix it. They had 3 choices...FIX IT, Move us or refund cruise and fly us home at first port. Day 4 at first port they FINALLY moved us to another cabin. Warren and his inept sidekick Brandon moved us, but didn't have beds set up as agreed and caused us to wait while they fixed and made up beds. A colossal waste of our time!! For all the aggravation and frustration we got a measly $85 ship credit. Woefully inadequate for the situation. They handled up with little urgency and borderline rudeness. We moved to B618 and that cabin worked fine and the room steward was !00X better. The cruise itself was nice. Great people in the dining room. Desserts were outstanding and so was the service. Entertainment was very good, some nights shows were a little on the short side. Ports and shore excursions were great. Our experience would've been terrific if not for the toilet issues and the poor way they handled us. Boat could use some refurbishing. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
I loved the drink package being all inclusive and being included in our initial bill. The food was excellent and the wait staff was so attentive and polite. Both my husband and daughter celebrated their birthday on board ship and the cake ... Read More
I loved the drink package being all inclusive and being included in our initial bill. The food was excellent and the wait staff was so attentive and polite. Both my husband and daughter celebrated their birthday on board ship and the cake they were given made it a very special meal for them. Mo, our waiter in the dining room, made our dining experience fun also. On a slightly note, on other cruise lines we have traveled on, there was a buffet area that was oriental in nature. You picked your vegetables, rice or noodles, and meat or shrimp and they stir fried it as you waited. This one was a favorite with both myself and my husband. I wish the lounges stayed open a little later but only the "Skywalker" seem to be open late. I do not smoke so I only spent a small amount of time in there. We loved the "Rock N Roll" theme on this cruise and really enjoyed the music and performers. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Caribbean Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 4.2
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.5 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.8
Family 3.5 3.8
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 3.5 3.3
Service 4.0 4.2
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 3.0 4.2

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