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We took the 5/4 Back to Back cruise (Cozumel & Costa Maya, then back to Ft. Lauderdale, then Grand Turk). As this was my first cruise, I hoped for great things. Since we are no strangers to travel (Europe, Canada, Jamaica, across the US), I think I have reasonable expectations. I expected clean accommodations, friendly staff, good food with good variety and an adequate amount of entertainment. Since I booked with the cruise line that bills itself as "The Consummate Host', I crossed my fingers and hoped I was right. 1) The staterooms were clean, easy to navigate, and well maintaned (Aloha 403 and 407). The room steward (Samuel) was pleasant and other than one request for additional towels, I never needed to contact him again. I consider this a good experience with the room staff anywhere I travel. The showers leave a lot to be desired, but I've stayed in hotels in Paris where they weren't any bigger, so I wasn't surprised or put off by this - it's just a fact. If you are over 6'2" and 250 lbs (like my hubby), you WILL find this challenging to negotiate - LOL. 2) Friendly staff. Here is where Princess failed me - and in a BIG way. Other than the room steward, our best experiences were at dinner in the Palm Dining room. Charlene and Remo were very good - after the first couple of days, they began anticipating our habits and were overall very pleasant to engage with. Hector was a pleasure and added some enjoyment to dinner. Otherwise, I felt disappointed with the rest of the staff. The bartenders in the Wheelhouse Lounge were good, elsewhere, mostly rude or abrupt. The Calypso bar was the worst. After 8pm, they were doing us a favor serving us most of the time. I also do not understand why purchasing an unlimited beverage package for kids meant they could only get drinks at the bar. Once the bars closed at 11pm, I had to go to the Skywalker's Lounge (21+ only) to get soda for them or else pay room service $2 per soda. Since my kids are 15 and 17, this was a nuisance, to say the least. Why they don't put a self-serve soda machine that gets activated by swiping your room card or something, I have no idea. The morning crew in the buffet dining rooms and on the pool deck were hit & miss about bringing coffee, juice, silverware, etc. Some days, I just got it myself. If they bring you coffee, they put the cream in for you and it's not enough. If you ask for more cream, they are exasperated or rude. (Perhaps they were rationing it - LOL). Once, my daughter and husband encountered the captain and another crew member while waiting for the elevator (just the 4 of them) - they were never acknowledged. We had multiple issues with the room cards having to be re-done (no, I didn't have them with my cell phone - we left them home...just some glitch, since it was only the first 2 days), and the member services personnel got them screwed up when they re-made them so that my son's ID was no longer attached to his room card (a rude discovery when you're trying to disembark at a port of call). Someone at Member Services entered my son's CC info with the wrong expiration date when he pre-paid for his gratuities & beverage package, creating a huge issue whereby I had to call the bank, only to have them inform me it was the cruise ship personnel's error - which took 2 members of management to explain to the representative in front of me, who kept insisting he needed to switch to using my account. My husband called and made reservations for 3 of us to go to the special Crab Shack dinner; when we arrived at the time we were given, the maitre'd informed me we had no such reservation and did not want to seat us. Since we had to pay extra and the place wasn't even half full, I didn't see why it took him 10 minutes to agree to seat us. None of these issues by themselves are dealbreakers, but taken as a whole, I just felt like I spent a lot of time on minor aggravations each day, and isn't that why we go on vacation in the first place - we have enough of that already? 3) The food. Dinner was great - while I am something of a foodie and thought some dishes were a little bland, that is purely a personal preference thing. I gave the dinner menu a 10. There was great variety, and every dish was prepared well with quality food and as it should be. (Steaks ordered medium rare came that way, etc.) The desserts were excellent - in fact, one of the items is on my personal "top 5 best desserts" that I've ever eaten. The buffets had a large variety catering to a wide group of nationalities, so there was something for everyone. People IN the buffet line frequently lacked buffet etiquette (ping ponging back and forth like they were in a pinball machine), but that has nothing to do with the cruise line. They do like to take up the breakfast buffet a little early in the Horizon buffet - sometimes 25 minutes before closing you couldn't get some items refilled, but otherwise, no real complaints. The pizza place and the popcorn/milkshake stand are quite good, also. If I had to criticize, it would be the International Cafe. There is a VERY limited selection and it doesn't really change - same 4 sandwiches, same 2-3 salads, rotating desserts. Since this is your only 24-hour choice, you can get tired of these options pretty quick. Room service is fairly limited also, but prompt. Most hotels we've stayed in have larger selection, though. 4) Entertainment - We saw the comedian, he was funny and clean. The kids even enjoyed him. There were a lot of art auctions and "sales" that we weren't interested in, but there was also some cute trivia games and a couple of shows. The guy singing in the Piano bar was very good and drew a large crowd. Movies under the stars was cute, they had all the NFL games satellited in, which was great, and I didn't go to be constantly entertained, so I was totally good with relaxing a lot, reading, etc. The jacuzzis weren't hot, though - lukewarm at best, and the deck attendant mumbled his explanation to me twice so I quit asking why. The destinations were fine - we enjoyed them all -- especially Grand Turk. If you've not been to the islands before, you might be a little put off by the catcalls, sales pitches and general "pushiness" of some of the vendors hawking their wares -- just ignore them and keep walking...they're used to it.  

Not as enjoyable as I would have hoped

Caribbean Princess Cruise Review by Runwaycat2

Trip Details
We took the 5/4 Back to Back cruise (Cozumel & Costa Maya, then back to Ft. Lauderdale, then Grand Turk). As this was my first cruise, I hoped for great things. Since we are no strangers to travel (Europe, Canada, Jamaica, across the US), I think I have reasonable expectations. I expected clean accommodations, friendly staff, good food with good variety and an adequate amount of entertainment. Since I booked with the cruise line that bills itself as "The Consummate Host', I crossed my fingers and hoped I was right.
1) The staterooms were clean, easy to navigate, and well maintaned (Aloha 403 and 407). The room steward (Samuel) was pleasant and other than one request for additional towels, I never needed to contact him again. I consider this a good experience with the room staff anywhere I travel. The showers leave a lot to be desired, but I've stayed in hotels in Paris where they weren't any bigger, so I wasn't surprised or put off by this - it's just a fact. If you are over 6'2" and 250 lbs (like my hubby), you WILL find this challenging to negotiate - LOL.
2) Friendly staff. Here is where Princess failed me - and in a BIG way. Other than the room steward, our best experiences were at dinner in the Palm Dining room. Charlene and Remo were very good - after the first couple of days, they began anticipating our habits and were overall very pleasant to engage with. Hector was a pleasure and added some enjoyment to dinner. Otherwise, I felt disappointed with the rest of the staff. The bartenders in the Wheelhouse Lounge were good, elsewhere, mostly rude or abrupt. The Calypso bar was the worst. After 8pm, they were doing us a favor serving us most of the time. I also do not understand why purchasing an unlimited beverage package for kids meant they could only get drinks at the bar. Once the bars closed at 11pm, I had to go to the Skywalker's Lounge (21+ only) to get soda for them or else pay room service $2 per soda. Since my kids are 15 and 17, this was a nuisance, to say the least. Why they don't put a self-serve soda machine that gets activated by swiping your room card or something, I have no idea. The morning crew in the buffet dining rooms and on the pool deck were hit & miss about bringing coffee, juice, silverware, etc. Some days, I just got it myself. If they bring you coffee, they put the cream in for you and it's not enough. If you ask for more cream, they are exasperated or rude. (Perhaps they were rationing it - LOL). Once, my daughter and husband encountered the captain and another crew member while waiting for the elevator (just the 4 of them) - they were never acknowledged. We had multiple issues with the room cards having to be re-done (no, I didn't have them with my cell phone - we left them home...just some glitch, since it was only the first 2 days), and the member services personnel got them screwed up when they re-made them so that my son's ID was no longer attached to his room card (a rude discovery when you're trying to disembark at a port of call). Someone at Member Services entered my son's CC info with the wrong expiration date when he pre-paid for his gratuities & beverage package, creating a huge issue whereby I had to call the bank, only to have them inform me it was the cruise ship personnel's error - which took 2 members of management to explain to the representative in front of me, who kept insisting he needed to switch to using my account. My husband called and made reservations for 3 of us to go to the special Crab Shack dinner; when we arrived at the time we were given, the maitre'd informed me we had no such reservation and did not want to seat us. Since we had to pay extra and the place wasn't even half full, I didn't see why it took him 10 minutes to agree to seat us. None of these issues by themselves are dealbreakers, but taken as a whole, I just felt like I spent a lot of time on minor aggravations each day, and isn't that why we go on vacation in the first place - we have enough of that already?
3) The food. Dinner was great - while I am something of a foodie and thought some dishes were a little bland, that is purely a personal preference thing. I gave the dinner menu a 10. There was great variety, and every dish was prepared well with quality food and as it should be. (Steaks ordered medium rare came that way, etc.) The desserts were excellent - in fact, one of the items is on my personal "top 5 best desserts" that I've ever eaten. The buffets had a large variety catering to a wide group of nationalities, so there was something for everyone. People IN the buffet line frequently lacked buffet etiquette (ping ponging back and forth like they were in a pinball machine), but that has nothing to do with the cruise line. They do like to take up the breakfast buffet a little early in the Horizon buffet - sometimes 25 minutes before closing you couldn't get some items refilled, but otherwise, no real complaints. The pizza place and the popcorn/milkshake stand are quite good, also. If I had to criticize, it would be the International Cafe. There is a VERY limited selection and it doesn't really change - same 4 sandwiches, same 2-3 salads, rotating desserts. Since this is your only 24-hour choice, you can get tired of these options pretty quick. Room service is fairly limited also, but prompt. Most hotels we've stayed in have larger selection, though.
4) Entertainment - We saw the comedian, he was funny and clean. The kids even enjoyed him. There were a lot of art auctions and "sales" that we weren't interested in, but there was also some cute trivia games and a couple of shows. The guy singing in the Piano bar was very good and drew a large crowd. Movies under the stars was cute, they had all the NFL games satellited in, which was great, and I didn't go to be constantly entertained, so I was totally good with relaxing a lot, reading, etc. The jacuzzis weren't hot, though - lukewarm at best, and the deck attendant mumbled his explanation to me twice so I quit asking why. The destinations were fine - we enjoyed them all -- especially Grand Turk. If you've not been to the islands before, you might be a little put off by the catcalls, sales pitches and general "pushiness" of some of the vendors hawking their wares -- just ignore them and keep walking...they're used to it.
 
Runwaycat2’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Ages 13 to 15
Ages 16+
Service
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Cabin Review

Cabin A403, A407
The rooms were nice, I knew they would be small, but felt they did a good job using the space. Even my hubby preferred it over his last cabin on Royal Caribbean. The use of mirrors made it seem bigger, and the bathroom - well, we all know they're tiny. The closet was ample and we had room to move around. There was a small table in the room that served no real purpose except to make you have to trip over it, so I put it in the closet and used it to hold my toiletry bag - LOL. We kept the room set on the coldest setting, but I couldn't really say it was ever less than about 72 probably. Room was quiet, though.
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