Embarkation and Disembarkation
As Elite members, embarkation was a breeze. We did not obtain our Medallions in advance, because we figured the priority line wouldn’t be too long and we were right. On our last cruise, we did obtain our ... Read More
Embarkation and Disembarkation
As Elite members, embarkation was a breeze. We did not obtain our Medallions in advance, because we figured the priority line wouldn’t be too long and we were right. On our last cruise, we did obtain our Medallions in advance and it was a lot of fiddling to get them done, plus we had to remember to pack them. The non-priority lines were much longer, so may be worth considering doing in advance.
Disembarkation was quick and efficient. We shipped our heavy bags direct from the ship to our home airport. We only had a small bag each when disembarking. Lines for US and Canadian citizens were short.
Itinerary and Ports
Probably the most interesting ports to visit on a 14-day Caribbean cruise. We did this cruise in November 2018 and still found it enjoyable. As my husband doesn’t like to tour, I have to take the ship’s tours if I want to learn more about each of the islands. The port specialist, Cherry, gave presentations on each of the ports and I was able to follow these each day on the TV. Cherry’s advice was very helpful. I’ve listed the tours below.
We were very lucky to have good weather and smooth seas every day.
We had a mini-suite on Dolphin Deck 9 on this trip. The staterooms (and the entertainment areas) on this ship are showing their age and need to be renovated in the near future if they want to compete with the newer, more modern ships. The bed is really comfortable, just too small for my husband and me. Wish they offered king-size beds. The “do not disturb/clean my room” signs constantly fell on the floor. Also, looks like the cruise line has reduced the number of stateroom stewards. We had to allow our steward two hours to clean the room, but on the disembarkation day, he had a small army of helpers.
MDR food was OK if you knew what to choose, except I like my hot meals hot and they were usually tepid to cool. Need warm plates. After the first couple of days, I stopped ordering beef or steak, because the meat was tough and gristly. I stuck to poultry and seafood most of the time. The Cesar’s salad is wonderful. We saw a lot of people ordering it every night. If they figured out how to get some seasoning (garlic or other) in the croutons, it would be perfect, so we ordered it without croutons. Salmon was good, especially the Caribbean salmon – very tasty. I always like their Chicken and leek pie. The fresh bread rolls are yummy too. The vegetables, on the other hand, were rock hard most of the time. I couldn’t even cut the broccoli with my knife. I know chefs like to offer veg “al dente”, but really, my gut didn’t like the veg. I prefer my veg cooked so they’re medium soft but not soggy and certainly not so hard. Not a lot of choice for desserts, other than ice-cream, although they have a list of nice desserts they offer every day.
Note: If you want a table for two in “anytime dining” in the Island Dining Room, you need to get there before 5:15; otherwise they escort you to the Palm Dining Room, which is much noisier. We’re hoping to book Club Classic on our next cruise – no waiting and plenty of tables for two.
International Café had a good selection of sandwiches, desserts and snacks all day. It was very popular. Also, that’s where you get the best coffee on the ship.
World Marketplace, or Horizon Court as we have known it over the years, is the best place for breakfast. Not perfect, but much better than the MDR. They offer a variety of breakfast foods, but I must admit they don’t vary them very much. Lunch always looks delicious – sandwiches, soups, salads and hot meals, if you prefer. We were disappointed with the dinner options. Food was tepid to cold and not a great variety.
We are very interested in a ship’s entertainment. Princess used to have at least two guest entertainers performing at the same time, but most evenings, it was only one. The cruise staff host multiple game and trivia shows, as well as karaoke, so you’ll find it’s often the guests entertaining other guests. Some of these events are good, but I don’t understand why they have so many, unless they’re under the misconception there’s a large audience in the Explorers Lounge each evening. That’s usually because there’s nothing else to do. The only exception is The Voice of the Ocean, which attracted large crowds during the auditions and finale. Lots of good talent onboard. The very talented singer, Daniel Bondi won. Lisa B. was the runner-up and she received lots of accolades, too.
Caribbean Princess Orchestra was fantastic. Production shows were marginal. They really didn’t have a lot of shows for a 14-day cruise.
DuVaul is the CD and his assistant CD’s were Karen, Jerry, Kaitlynn and Jacinta. DuVaul is very likeable and entertaining. Karen is the Zumba instructor and a good dancer. She’s also a good organizer and game host. Jerry is a good singer and great at hosting karaoke and musical trivia. Kaitlynn is good at hosting game shows. Jacinta is new, but she did host a trivia game and did a good job. While we liked them all, we’d still prefer to see professional guest entertainers more than staff entertainers.
The atrium was decorated with trees and swags. Looked quite festive.
We had two opportunities to sing Christmas songs with the crew and other guests.
The kids seemed pleased to see Santa on Christmas Eve.
The Holiday Show in the Princess Theater was more like “amateur dramatics,” although the crew singing their version of the Twelve Days of Christmas was quite funny.
I browsed the shops but only bought one or two items. However, the outlet sales were really good. Ben, the shopping concierge held a few raffles and also worked as a substitute cruise staff member. He’s really good.
I didn’t use the spa on this trip, mostly because I had a massage and had my nails done before departure.
The casino was our muster station and was on deck 7. To get to the Princess Theatre you either had to walk through the casino or go to deck 6 and walk around. When in the casino, I chose the starboard side where there was less smoke.
Like most Elite members, we no longer attend the Captain’s Circle party.
Overall, the service was good. You’re always going to find a couple of exceptions.
We just used our Medallions to open our stateroom door, but there are many more uses with their app. However, I switch my phone to airplane mode, then switch it off and place it in the safe when I’m on a cruise. I want to enjoy my vacation.
About 60% were seniors and we had a lot of Elite guests. There were several families with kids, but not overwhelming, which is fine. I don’t mind kids on a cruise. Just wish their parents would keep an eye on them and not let them run everywhere. They don’t understand the safety aspects and the consequences of possibly colliding with a senior who could fall and break a hip.
We had three formal nights and most guests complied with the suggested evening wear. I did see at least two people declined entry to the MDR because they were wearing shorts. Just read your Princess Patter for guidelines and follow the ship’s etiquette recommendations.
St. Thomas – We docked at Havensight – yeah! Good access to many shops. I just went to the pharmacy in building 5 to pick up a few extras I’d forgotten to pack. Reasonably priced and helpful staff. The view of Charlotte Amalie from the ship is spectacular. We’ve visited this port many times and done the tours, so we don’t mind staying on board.
Antigua – We didn’t disembark here this time. If you walk more than a few hundred yards, the neighborhood is not somewhere a female can safely walk alone. Cherry’s presentation showed the other side of the Island – Englishtown – was really pretty, so maybe I’ll do a tour there next time.
St. Kitts – We were there on Christmas Day. The streets in Basseterre were almost empty. At this time of the year, they celebrate Carnival every evening. I took a tour to see where the Batik cloth was made – very interesting and colorful. It was very humid inland. The driver took us to the other side of the Island where the rich folks lived. We could take panoramic photos from a hill. Vendors want to take your photo with the tiny green monkeys, but Cherry warned us to decline, as these baby monkeys are taken away from their mothers at a young age. The driver seemed to be on “Island time” and we arrived back at the port 45 minutes late.
Barbados – Always a lovely island, but I had done an island tour a year ago and the tours offered didn’t interest me. I took the shuttle to the terminal shops, took photos and came back to the ship. We had two medical emergencies at this port.
Martinique – I did a tour last year and wasn’t too impressed. I would have liked to walk past the market stalls and along the shoreline to the town of Fort-de-France, but wasn’t sure if it was safe to walk alone.
Trinidad – Last year, I went to Maracas Beach, which was very nice but a long drive. None of the other tours interested me and I decided to stay on board after Cherry warned us to only walk around Port Spain in groups because of pick pockets.
Curacao – This was by far the best tour and we had an excellent tour guide, Helvig who was very knowledgeable and helpful. We visited the liqueur factory. I’ve been there before but it’s always a nice visit. From there we visited an Aloe Vera Farm which was really interesting. However, the presenter offered samples of the juice which I didn’t taste. I tested the lotion in the shop. Afterwards, we visited a Chi-Chi Doll Workshop. The dolls were colorful and the ladies painting them were very friendly, but just not my taste.
Aruba – I was disappointed with my tour, because I had chosen it to see the Gold Mill. We visited the California Lighthouse, Alta Vista Chapel and Natural Bridge – all places I’d been to last year. When we reached the Gold Mill, the driver/guide swung round the parking lot, pointed to the mill and drove off. He then took us to see a couple of their rock formations, which wasn’t on the schedule, and brought us back to the ship 15 minutes early. That’s the time we could have taken to visit the Gold Mill.
General Impression of Tours
I’ve been sailing with Princess for many years and the tours don’t vary much from year to year. I’d like to see Princess offer some different tours. Talk to the locals and find out more. Read Less