Although this was our first Princess cruise, we booked the trip with my parents, who has almost TWENTY Princess cruises. My husband & I have sailed for other cruise line and told my parents that we didn't know what they were bragging about all this time. After this trip, my parents do not care for ever booking a Princess cruise again. The service of our steward was wonderful, the staff on the ship is very friendly, especially the waiter and the asst. wait staff in our traditional dining. But, the ship was seriously lacking. Here are the pro's and con's - going to start with the Con's since they outnumber the Pro's.
- I like to watch TV to unwind. Poor selection of channels, too much Princess commercialization!!!
We stayed on the Caribe floor (deck 10), it was pretty good. A good location, not too far from traditional dining (about 4 decks away) and not too far from anytime dining (5 decks away) - so it served our needs well. Very quiet, only heard the occasional person in the hallway. Our room was C717 (C is for Caribe, Rm 717). It accommodated up to 4 people. We had our two children with us. Two bunks pulled out of the walls. It was an extremely tight living space and we would never ever do that again. Way too small for a family of four.
St. Maarten or as many Americans refer to it as St. Martin was my favorite port out of all the five destinations. It had everything one could ask for. The guys in our party rented scooters and toured all over the islands. Us ladies took a water taxi to Downtown Phillipsburg and walked the town and did some shopping along with getting some drinks. Lots of shopping in Downtown Phillipsburg - it was $4 per person for a water taxi one-way OR $6 per person would give you all-day access to the water taxi. No problems with the water taxi, they left very often and had lots of ships available. It turned out to be a great day that we all enjoyed very much!
We booked an excursion WITH princess cruises for snorkeling in St. Lucia. WHAT AN UTTER DISAPPOINTMENT! I WILL NEVER EVER BOOK ANOTHER EXCURSION WITH PRINCESS AGAIN! Before giving my review, let me tell you about the my history of excursions. I have gone on other cruises and booked excisions through the cruise line and through touring vendors. This was by far the worst excursion. I booked my shore excursion months before the cruise, giving ample opportunity for them to be organized. It took a while to get there, once arriving we were passed out equipment. I booked a child excursion for my daughter, who is 12. They had NO EQUIPMENT that fit her. This includes a flotation device, snorkel gear (mask, etc.), and flippers. After keeping my daughter & I out of the water, while the rest of the tour were already snorkeling, we had to sit and wait for them to find equipment. But, none of the gear were child-size, even though they had plenty of time to ensure they had child-size equipment in their inventory. Additionally, they couldn't find flippers my size (I have average size feet, size 8). They kept giving me flippers too big or too small. After speaking with the cruise excursions desk, they refunded me half-of the cost. Which, I guess is ok, but still upset me. If she couldn't participate, we should receive a FULL REFUND!Wow. Such disorganization. For $80 tickets per person, I would expect MUCH MORE.
I stayed on the ship during this one, but my husband, father, and friend, got off the ship. They toured the different Forts throughout the island and walked around a lot. They booked an excursion with a local, NOT with Princess.
Bonaire was ok. It had decent shopping within the location of the ship, it did not have any beaches within a 5-mile radius of the ship. The shoreline was filled with seaweed and huge rocks. We walked about 3 miles and found about a six-foot long patch of actual sand next to some private property. We ended up snorkeling in that area. When walking back we stopped at a bar that was right next to the port, it had affordable prices and cool things on the menu (like Octopus). It also had Dr. Pepper, which really satisfied my 12-y/o daughter. which Princess cruise ships do not have (Dr. Pepper is huge in Texas).
Overrated. There was no sandy beaches within the area of port, so count on taking a taxi there! But there was an abundance of shopping; however, it was seriously lacking on cute, trendy shops. It was more Gucci, Prada, Coach, etc. - really high-end shops that you would find in a very upscale community like Beverly Hills. My husband & I are both full-time college students who earn meager wages, so we did not even set foot into any of these shops. We did find two little gift shops that was by the Holland Mall - they had tons of merchandise in them. You name it, they had it (Cuban cigars, butterfly preserves, and all your typical gift shop merchandise, such as, apparel, magnets, post cards, jewelry, etc.).