3 Houston Cruises for the Disabled Cruise Reviews

The cruise my wife and booked and what we actually sailed ended up being two different things entirely; and while there was disappointment that we we unable to dock in Key West, we did end up going to Nassau which was very nice. Before I ... Read More
The cruise my wife and booked and what we actually sailed ended up being two different things entirely; and while there was disappointment that we we unable to dock in Key West, we did end up going to Nassau which was very nice. Before I proceed with this review any further, I need to address some misinformation provided in the previous review by bcsjr. In fairness to Princess they did send my wife and I an email the Friday prior to sailing that due to a generator issue (not an engine problem as suggested in the other review) the ship would skip Princess Cays (their private island) and would be replaced by a stop in Nassau so the ship could return to Houston in time. Secondly, while we did skip Key West due to strong winds causing unsafe docking (on a sunny day I might point out) we ended up spending an extra day at sea. Princess provided compensation of $50 per person in the form of on-board credit as well was 25% of the fare we paid as a credit towards a future cruise. All of this we found fair and more than reasonable. While we were disappointed, we did not let it ruin our vacation unlike many other passengers who complained the whole trip endlessly. If you travel by ship, you have to be more flexible and understanding and not so rigid and demanding like we found so many of our fellow passengers to be. Embarkation was very smooth. My wife uses a wheelchair and the staff were amazing and we were on-board in no time. The only issue we had was the dining noted on our cruise cards was incorrect and I had to stand in line at passenger services once we boarded to get it fixed so they reflected the dining preference I had confirmed for months in Princess' Cruise Personalizer. I try to avoid these long lines on the ship on the first day, but it was handled very well by the passenger services staff. I did find that they are a tad jaded, most likely from dealing with so many people yelling at them. As for the cruise, the entertainment was very good. They had a visiting Soprano on the ship who was amazing we saw her in the production of Bravo and during her own show on the last day. The ships singers and dancers were average (some nails on chalkboard moments). We also experience the Voice of the Ocean patterned after the TV show and found the passenger talent to be quite good and the judges very funny. This cruise also played host to Princess' annual Entertainer of the Year Awards where they showcased a singer, comedian and magician who are supposed to represent the best of Princess. The singer was good, the magician was kids birthday party level, but the comedian (AJ Jamal) was fantastic and really funny as well as very nice and personable when you saw him around the ship (he always engaged the passengers). We were not a fan of the Wake Show the cruise director did everyday on TV, it was one endless infomercial for EFFY (the only jewelry line on the ship) and really told us nothing about the ship, activities or ports of call. Dining room and food were fantastic and when we did have an issue it was quickly rectified by our amazing waiter Abel. We ate all of our meals in either the dining room, International Cafe or room service (which was timely and good); we avoid buffets given the "piggy" and rude nature of our fellow passengers in this type of venue. Our idea of dining is not dealing with lines of aggressive, pushy people who think they will never eat again unless they elbow someone for a sandwich. Overall we had a great time. We did not do any excursions given the limitation of wheelchair accessible options, so we explored Nassau and Freeport on our own which worked out just fine (and made easier by the incredible weather). As Platinum members we did enjoy a few perks, but Princess could learn a few things from Royal Caribbean and ramp up the perks. Finally, as for the condition of the ship; it was in very good condition overall and seemed to be maintained well in the public areas. We did have some issues with the cabin which I will address in the cabin review. This was our third time on this ship over the last 2 years and we found the staff friendly and the ship easy to navigate, especially for someone with accessibility issues. My biggest disappointment came from some of our fellow passengers who need to learn better manners. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We are a late 60's couple married 46 years with at least 14 prior cruises to our credit, 5 long cruises across the Atlantic with lots of sea days. This was a much anticipated cruise with lots of research including the McCullough book ... Read More
We are a late 60's couple married 46 years with at least 14 prior cruises to our credit, 5 long cruises across the Atlantic with lots of sea days. This was a much anticipated cruise with lots of research including the McCullough book "Path between the Seas". Of course the cruise was much more than the day we spent going through the canal. We like lazy at sea days with lots of time to read and relax. If one watches carefully, even the open ocean can have visual rewards. First the misses. The tours and travels were not really capable of dealing with a handicap scooter and coordination with tour operators was marginal. We had to cancel several tours because we were informed the tour operator could not accommodate a small 3 wheel, take-apart scooter , only to find when we walked out on the dock there were lots of huge buses which would have accommodated us easily. We even asked a bus driver if the scooter could be loaded and he assured it could easily be done. The lack of meaningful lectures was sorely missed. The selection of movies available was interesting to say the least, but playing "The Hobbit" 8 times a day was annoying. I could go on, but why bother. The Azura dining room was dark and noisy, Tzar's was much better and open almost every day for all meals. Some nice bits. Osheehan's and ChinChin were greatly appreciated. Food everywhere and no need for a coke package if you can do with fruit juice, coffee and water at all times. The Jewel rides VERY smoothly and was extremely well handled. Our Steward Paul was a wonderful part of our cruise. look up "Quiet efficiency" and his picture will be there. The library on board was one of the largest I have seen on any boat and even had a few Atlas's available to peruse. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We sailed on Caribbean Princess on 12/14/2013 and were really looking forward to getting away and enjoying some warm weather! We'd been set to sail with RCCL out of Galveston that week, but changed when we learned that Princess was to ... Read More
We sailed on Caribbean Princess on 12/14/2013 and were really looking forward to getting away and enjoying some warm weather! We'd been set to sail with RCCL out of Galveston that week, but changed when we learned that Princess was to be sailing out of the Port of Houston, and it's significantly closer to where we live in NW Houston. For whatever reason, the Houston area’s been unseasonably cold ever since Princess first got here in November, and the 14th was no different. We had some last-minute errands to run, so we left our house around 9 a.m., thus missing the email that warned us that boarding would be delayed – about the only true message Princess sent out during the cruise! We got to the Port of Houston around 12:30 p.m. since we board early due to my disability and were directed to a loooonnnnngggg line of cars that ultimately reached the auxiliary lot, where we started Row 6. No reason was given, but at 2:00, we were told that if we wanted, we could go into Kemah for lunch because there was plenty of time before boarding would begin as the passengers returning had not yet been cleared to leave the ship! We decided to wait because it was sprinkling and nasty out, with a bitter cold wind blowing as well. We finally began moving around 3:45 a.m. but once we parked, it took little time to go through embarkation and board the ship. Our Cabin was A303, a disabled cabin with no threshold and enough space for “Nascar Nellie” my scooter – who was wearing her Christmas Finery and twinkling with LED lights – one set of batteries lasted the week…thanks QVC! We had ordered a soda card for my husband but that was it. Next time, if there is one – we’ll also get a coffee card, not because he drinks specialty coffee but because except for the dining rooms and buffets, you had to pay for the privilege of getting not only coffee, but also tea and hot chocolate, UNlike our prior experience with RCCL. Once again, just as I said with our last trip on Princess, we felt as if they nickelled-and-dimed us to death on the cruise. It seemed like everywhere, something cost extra, and it's amazing how much those little things add up. We chose Anytime Dining because my husband is diabetic and is used to eating at 6 p.m. so we felt that would give us the chance to eat close to the same time. WRONG! The first day, since boarding was delayed (and so was our departure), we didn’t get to the buffet for lunch until almost 5 p.m. and we didn’t feel like having another big meal. The food in the buffets was plentiful and tasty much of the time. Everywhere were hand-sanitizer units, and it was good to see everyone using them! There were even signs in the restrooms urging people to use paper towels to open the doors when leaving. I had only one gripe with the restroom facilities: because there are handicapped stalls when you first get in there, it doesn’t mean that you should use them instead of regular ones – every time I had to wait while one or more people who did not appear to be disabled in any way, shape, or form, took advantage of the extra space. There wasn’t enough space for me to leave Nellie behind, so I just waited. I could understand if there weren’t enough regular stalls, but there were, and most often, they were vacant. It’s just a courtesy thing, ladies! The second night, we were directed to the Coral Dining room, where we learned that we wouldn’t be able to dine until at least 7 p.m. (actually 7:30 before we were seated) because it had fixed seating until then. It wasn’t until Day 5 that we learned of the existence of the Int’l Dining Room, but ironically, IT didn’t have availability for us until 7:30 as well. We asked about making reservations, but were told by not only one, but two people, (and a phone recording) that they weren’t taking reservations. Each night, as well, there was a huge delay between our salads and our entrees. On virtually every night in a dining room, my meat was too tough to eat, and since we had such a delay, I didn’t ask about a replacement. Not only that, but the entrees we did get were not even warm, but tepid. This was a huge difference between our last trip on Princess. That time, we had poor service on the first day, and they switched us to Anytime and gave us the same seats and waitress for the rest of the trip – marvelous!!! Twice, we chose to eat in the Caribe Buffet and enjoyed it almost as much as the regular dining rooms. We thoroughly enjoyed our Meet & Greet event, but it was a good thing that we’d made sure everyone knew when and where because it wasn't mentioned in the Princess Newsletter that day. We had a great time and many of us exchanged grab bag gifts themed “What we wouldn’t sail without.” Some of the gifts were really clever and everyone had fun. On Thursday, we met again and swapped “Tall Tales” with prizes provided by one of the members who was from Calgary, Alberta. Raoul claimed to be afraid to sail, but seemed to be enjoying his time at sea! Unfortunately, our bad weather followed us throughout the Western Caribbean. We did leave the ship for awhile in Cozumel, but it began to rain, so we returned. Roatan, Honduras gave us some sunshine, but much of the day consisted of torrential rainfall. My husband joined another couple to go to the Cameo Factory, but Nellie and I stayed behind because she doesn’t like rain very much. We did get to go out on our balcony for awhile when they got back and we enjoyed not one but two rainbows. The second one was so close that I’d swear you could see just where the pot of gold was – and it WASN’T in the Casino! In Belize, they won’t tender scooters, so we remained onboard as well. We enjoyed people watching, and spent some time in the casino – where I actually won almost $40 playing a 2-cent slot machine! I gave $20 of it back, but spent a long time doing it. Friday the 20th marked probably the worst day of the trip. We were told to have our luggage outside our doors by 9 p.m. On other cruises, it’d disappear almost as quickly as you put it out, but not this night. We went to join some friends, and then came an announcement from the Captain, telling us that due to bad weather in Houston, they were going to make a run for it, and would hopefully arrive before it did. They anticipated a 9 pm arrival on Friday, the 20th (luggage?), but would not be disembarking guests until the regular time on the 21st. Still no luggage disappearing… About an hour later, there was another announcement from the Cruise Director (more on him later.) NOW, the fog had arrived and they told us that we could not arrive until Sunday, the 22nd, with docking taking place around 11 p.m. on the 21st. We were to retrieve our luggage. They advised anyone who had air reservations to make their changes themselves, UNLESS they had booked through Princess, same with transfers. They provided only complimentary phone and Internet service to enable this. The ship had pretty much stopped in place and that was the situation when we went to bed. We hadn’t been able to get a copy of our statement, and none was ever placed under our door. The next morning at 7:00 a.m., my husband woke up and told me that we were moving again, and that it appeared that the fog had lifted. Just moments later, the mysterious Cruise Director came on and told us that, contrary to what they and we had been told, we were now about to enter the Houston Ship Channel and would be docking, not on Sunday, but on Saturday at around 11 a.m. (or noon). We should put our luggage out as soon as possible and then go for breakfast. Disembarkation would occur as soon as possible after we docked, and wait for your floor to be called. So, we had breakfast and went to the public areas to wait for disembarkation directions. We said goodbye to our Steward, Raymond, who had been wonderful to us all week long, and we gave him extra gratuities – he was the only one we did that with. After we’d waited for almost an hour, they told everyone to please go and wait in their cabins and disembarkation information would be provided. It was maybe 11:30-ish and we were still moving. When we got to our cabin, it had been prepped for the next cruise. We ended up sitting in the little chairs provided in the room – and it was nasty outside again, so the balcony was of no use. There we sat until 3:30 p.m. when we were told to disembark. We were among the last and by then the wind was howling and it was pouring down rain. Ed ran through it to get our car from a handicapped parking spot, but they didn’t want him to drive under the Departure Portico to load my scooter, so he ended up getting soaking wet – and so did Nellie! I had plastic covering her tiller, but everything we had ended up wet. We finally got to our home in NW Houston about 5:00 pm…and were we ever glad to be home!!! I don’t have a whole lot against Princess – it’s certainly better than Carnival. What we did see was a staff who didn’t really care a whole lot. In all our our dozen cruises, we’ve always been able to recognize the cruise director, yet this one we never even caught sight of. Due to the mess with dinner times, we didn’t get to enjoy any of the entertainment (and we don’t play bingo!) There weren’t towel animals, chocolates or so many of the little touches that we’ve come to enjoy when cruising. I won't even comment on gratuities. We didn’t get sight of the captain, either, because we didn’t get our invitation to the returning guests event until AFTER it happened. There was one person in one of the shops who was friendly. Those behind the Purser’s Desk appeared no less than surly the one time I did make a request. We’d heard so much from our M&M friends who were “Elite” but I think they were the only ones to matter to Princess. Frankly, we cancelled an RCCL cruise to be on this one and we’re sorry we did. From rumors we’ve heard, another captain has left the Caribbean Princess due to Port of Houston issues – but Princess KNEW what it was like before they ever returned there! I don’t understand why there are all these problems, but it’s affecting those who are cruising. We felt worst for those who changed reservations and then ended up having to pay for another night’s lodging if they hadn’t purchased travel and insurance through Princess. No, the weather wasn’t their fault, but the way Princess reacted TO the weather WAS. We’ll think long and hard before we sail with them again.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013

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