Our annual Christmas "escape" aboard Princess was a repeat cruise from 2014 on the (still) beautiful, if not flawed, Royal.
The ship was in fine form with the usual elegant and understated Holiday decorations. The village carolers in Dickensian attire greeted us, a foreshadowing of the excellent musical talent aboard this cruise.
Embarkation was fine - a bit chaotic in the cavernous reception area but preferred check-in softened any stress from the load-in. As always, the attendants were courteous and efficient.
We chose this cruise over the Emerald Princess cruise to the ABC's - favorite destinations of ours - due to our positive experience on the Royal last year. It took a little getting used to, but overall we think this ship is quite nice.
Without much detail, the cruise was wonderful throughout. The entertainment, particularly the the musicians - both ship's band and guest musicians - was outstanding, the best overall of any Princes cruise and we've been on 20. Of particularly note was Ship's band leader Dave and his fine crew. Dave organized a couple of special Christmas shows and were they special indeed! Dave and the rest of the musical cast put on a great show in the Piazza. We were lucky enough to catch the rehearsal as well. The ship's band was complemented by the fine Argentinian quartet (forgot their name) featuring the lovely Pascale on vocals, the irrepressible Federico on bass, a fine drummer, and the amazing Juan on Piano (sorry about the names, guys). Also in the show was the steel drum player, an accomplished professional, Tyrone; and the excellent party band The New Deal. Classing the place up a bit was the wonderful Liberty String Quartet, featuring their amazing violinists. Dave pulled off a terrific job in getting all these fine musicians playing together for a truly memorable show. The sometimes nightly jazz shows at the Wheelhouse also featured most of these players. At one, a fantastic vocalist named Rebecca joined in for three songs, including the challenging Nature Boy, to fine results.
I spent the most ink on this aspect of the cruise because they really deserve to be remembered. We enjoyed speaking with Federico, Tomas (the fine ship's guitarist) and Juan at the jazz shows - they are really great guys.
We ate at the Concerto DR for 9 of the nights (anytime opened at 7:30pm here) and were served professionally and cordially by Manual and Kedek, who worked together flawlessly. A lovely greeter on one of her first cruises, Raqual, became a familiar face to us each night at the Concerto. We loved her warm, genuine spirit!
The food was overall, very good. Plates arrived warm and as ordered each night. The first formal we opted for an earlier dinner at the Symphony and that experience quickly drew us back to Manual, Kedek, and Raqual -well worth the wait until 7:30!
We had the Chateaubriand which was delicious and rare, the duck, a wonderful pork rib chop, turkey on Christmas, and my favorite overall dish: Sea scallops over Ratatouille which was sublime with perfectly cooked scallops over a flavorful melange of vegetables. Well done! At the chef's presentation in the theater, the British chef aboard prepared this dish so I now am on the hook to replicate. We usually eat the Grill or Sabatini's, but we were intrigued enough by the posted menus each day to dine in the MDR, and we're happy we did. One soft note was the soups - so terrific last year - bland this year. My wife observed that they removed the over salting fortunately and that probably made some of the difference. One exception to this was the appetizer of pate and mushroom bisque one night which was another highlight.
We skipped the Cay this trip due to rough seas in favor of the Retreat area, also repeated this in Dominica and Grenada. Grenada this year was a quick stop in the early AM. We slept in most days preferring Room service for breakfast. The Retreat area was our preferred onboard hangout, except on sea days when we avoid the pool areas altogether (it helps to live in FL).
Fine - usual mini for us as we prefer this accommodation on the Caribbean's. Rico, our Steward provided a comfortable and clean environment. Room was mid-ship, and yes the balcony is small, but adequate.
Stayed onboard, but we usually love the Cay.
Wonderful excursion, ship tour, aboard the Champagne catamaran. A friendly engaged crew met all our needs. The water was a bit rough for snorkeling, but the beach stop was great. The crew provided all manner of drink and some tasty baguettes.View All 92 Catamaran Tour Reviews
Stayed onboard. I feel for the people of Dominica recovering after the devastating hurricane, but there's just not a whole lot to do there after four previous visits.
Love Grenada, but the 7am-2pm port call left little time so we stayed onboard mostly, venturing out only for spices.
Not much of a beach here, but we had a good time in the water off the dock. Food and beverages are available. Not bad.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Love this tour! The resort is fabulous and we may consider just going there alone someday. Transportation, food, and beverages along with towels, showers, rest rooms and the run of this beautiful five-star resort are included. The van ride was a bit long and the van absolutely stunk, but otherwise - all good. A man-made protected beach was our spot for the day - loved it.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Long-term parking at Park & Go - excellent service.