My husband and I are not new to cruising. This was our first cruise with Princess but we have been on a total of 6 previous cruises including Carnival and Royal Caribbean.
My husband and I drove from 4 hours west of DFW and spent the night in Webster at the Hampton Inn off I45. We have learned to stay in the Seabrook-Webster area of Houston as hotel prices are about half of what rooms in Galveston book for. We didn't arrive at the hotel until midnight so we didn't take in any of the hotel amenities but the important things we checked off as a plus; friendly front desk,great bedding, the hum of a fan in the room (can't do the silence), strong shower pressure and great complimentary breakfast. Didn't rush to get to Galveston the next morning because Baybrook Mall (just 2 or 3 miles away) was calling.
Port of Galveston:
We always choose to depart out of Galveston. Just don't want the extra hassle and expense of airfare. A tip to travelers: As soon as you get to Galveston, go to the ship terminal and drop off your luggage! No need to travel around with it all day. You can just pull up and the service personnel will ask you if you're picking up or dropping off and they will direct to which ever way to go. Use a porter for your luggage. They are professional and work hard. We tip a couple of dollars per bag. We even checked our water and sodas. Just tied the bag up good and tagged it. No problem. Beats having to drag it around with you until your room is ready. We always park with EZ Cruise Parking. Close by and efficient. I usually receive Internet coupons for money off that I use. Dropped off the car, shuttled to the terminal and no luggage to drag around because it's already there! On the ship by 1:30 after only about one hour wait for check in. All was smooth.
Our room was ready when we arrived and guess what? We were upgraded from E712, right above Club Fusion to R750 right off the Terrace Pool. When we booked our room was to be TBA and did we ever luck out! Two porthole windows right off the back of the ship. Loved the rooms. Typical cruise ship stateroom but must admit we have had better bedding on other cruise lines. The mattress was a bit lumpy and thin. I think Princess could overhaul the bedding and bathrobes. Room Steward was Sandie and he was a jewel. Always spoke to us by name whenever he met us in the hallways. Our room was always spic and span and we never went without ice in the bucket.
Love all aspects of the ship. Immaculate at all times. The glitz associated with Carnival ships wasn't present here and that was nice in a different way. I personally prefer the cocktail lounge seating in the Main Theater's on other ships. Princess Theater had your typical row seating as most theaters. I felt sorry for the waiters assigned having to squeeze down the isles. Dining rooms were nice and loved the Piazza area.
Hubby and I took part in numerous activities onboard. The darn wind blew like never before which really hampered outdoor/deck activities. We couldn't tolerate the Sanctuary due to wind and that was a shame. Beautiful area. The MUTS were usually a bit windy too and chilly but it was March. Loved, loved the movies in the Princess Theater. We saw Lincoln, Argo and Silver Linings. We had already seen two of these movies but enjoyed them again just the same. Other activities: Loved the Scholarship at Sea Lectures. I am not good with names but the Art Director on the ship loves what he does and we so enjoyed the Art History Lecture. Other activities we enjoyed were tour of the galley and cooking demo by the Grand Chef of the Princess Cruise Lines. We got to go backstage and tour the dressing rooms of the Princess Dancers. We also enjoyed all of the nightly performances as well as the fly in entertainment. The Cruise Director wasn't one of our favorites. The personality just didn't seem to fit the CD's we have had in the past. Mainly she needs to come up with some new jokes. Pretty lame in this area.
Food & Dining:
We loved the Horizon Court Buffet. Can't imagine not being able to find what you like here. Omelets cooked to order and all of the fresh fruit and lovely salad vegetables you can imagine! Workers of this area were diligent about guests using hand sanitizer entering buffet every time. Thank You! Can't say enough good about the buffet. Now as to the Main Dining room: We had 8:00 seating and here are some things I liked: We actually saw the Maitre D most every night and on a few occasions they prepared speciality dishes from a station set up in our areas like Caesar Salad and a spicy penne pasta dish was was my favorite food of the trip. Beautiful Baked Alaska and Parade of waiters on the last night was impressive.
Our waitstaff while very professional and efficient enough were just not as personable as what we have had on other cruise. Keep in mind that my husband and I had a table for two and ate in the dining room every night. Usually by the second night, the waiters don't even ask if you drink iced tea, water or enjoy coffee with dessert. It just appears. I would order my iced tea every night but sometimes I waited 10-20 minutes for it to arrive. Every night, we had to tell them we would like to order wine with our dinner. They never once referred to us by name and our waiters in the past always greeted us by name. In fact we ate in the dining room at lunch one day and were waited on by our own nightly waiter and he never acknowledged that he knew us. As far as the meals go, nice selections and beautiful to the eye yet lacking in flavor. I have just decided that this is just personal taste as we have lacked flavor to our standards on other cruises. We ate at the Crown Dining Room one night and paid the $25 dollar surcharge. Save your money. The same foods can be found in the Dining Room. Nice to look at, just not very tasty. The breads each evening were beautiful to look at but why are all of the rolls so hard? It hurts my mouth!
Loved all of the ports! In Roatan we booked online privately with Victor Bodden Tours. Had our personal driver, Lany and he took us all over. We went to Iguana Farm, Monkey Farm, Cameo Factory,West End Beach and a local grocery store.
Belize was great! Booked cavetubing.bz with Vitalino. We were met with a handshake and a bottle of water. Had the best guide ever "Edwin". Everyone should cave tube. Loved the lunch at the end of the trip. Served up some local fare of stewed chicken, rice and beans, coleslaw and an amazingly cold bottle of Coca Cola! Cozumel: One of our favorite ports of all times turned into a disappointment. Due to the high winds that I mentioned earlier, all marinas were closed and no water sports were allowed. I had booked a deep sea fishing adventure with chichi and it was canceled. Amanda had our deposit refunded via PayPal before we even go home. Perhaps next year ChiChi! Side note: We have always booked privately on our own and have always had excellent tours for a fraction of the cost. I will do so again next year.
Seven days flies by in a flash when you're having fun and in no time at all we are waking up back in Galveston. Debarkation was smooth and routine. Once again a tip to you all....grab a porter! Money well spent!Hubby and I have already booked the Caribbean Princess for next Spring Break. First time we will be leaving out of Houston...we will see.
Huge closet, what a surprise! Great location - private and quiet. Loved the convenience to the Terrace Pool and the Horizon Court.