Caribbean Princess Cruise Review by MrSchwump
- Sail Date: February 2009
- Destination: Southern Caribbean
We arrived in San Juan on the 21st and stayed at the Doubletree San Juan, formerly the Best Western Hotel Pierre. It was very nice. Newly renovated and decorated in a very modern style. The hotel staff was helpful and it was in a very good location in the Condado/Isla Verde area. There was a SuperMax grocery store right across the street which was very convenient for precruise supplies. Cab fare from airport to hotel was $25.00 and about the same from the hotel to the Pan Am pier.
We got to the pier about 11:45am and a fair sized line had formed already. Around noon we were allowed inside the terminal and after a little while were moved to the check in area. We were on board and in our cabin by 1pm.
We had an inside cabin, R515. I thought it was roomier than a similar cabin we had on the Crown Princess. This cabin generally ran parallel to the hallway where most inside cabins are oriented perpendicular to the hall. There was far most storage space than we needed. The electronic safe was convenient and easy to use. The bathroom was adequate, room for only 1 at a time. We brought an over the door shoe organizer from Target to put toiletries in. The vanity space was small and I think it helped keep the bathroom a lot neater. My only complaint about the bathroom was the shower curtain. I could swear the Crown Princess had a shower door. The shower curtain seemed like it was just a touch too short and if you weren't careful about keeping it inside the lip around the shower floor, water would go everywhere. By the 3rd day we figured out how to corral the shower curtain but it was a minor pain the first couple of days. The flat screen TV was an upgrade done while the ship was in drydock. It was about a 22" screen and in our cabin; the inputs on the rear of the set were easily accessible for plugging in other video sources. In other cabin configurations, it could be harder if not impossible to reach. Not that you spend a lot of time watching TV on a cruise but the selection of programming was pretty good. There was CNN, BBC World News, an ESPN and a couple of channels for English soccer. There were movie channels showing fairly new movies (Mamma Mia, etc.). My favorite channel was the one that showed old episodes of "The Love Boat". The parade of stars was impressive! Loni Anderson, Charo, Jim Nabors, Sandy Duncan, the list goes on and on!
Since a lot has already been written about the facilities on board the Caribbean Princess, I'll skip a lot of detail about all the various public areas. The new Piazza was virtually identical to the Crown Princess. There were a couple of areas that seemed to be blocked off but they weren't noticeable as construction zones. I never heard a power tool or saw a construction worker. The casino seemed a little bigger than the Crown Princess with a mix of table games, video slots and the traditional slot machines.
Most of our time on board was spent at the Neptune Pool. We did like the Lotus Pool for the water treadmill feature and its peacefulness. There was no music or movie soundtrack blaring at you. Most afternoons there was live music at the Neptune Pool with either the Epithany Band or the Sugar Cane band playing. Both did a great job with all the island favorites and some classic rock and oldies thrown in. We didn't spend a lot of time at the Terrace Pool at the stern of the ship, but on 1 or 2 days it was a great place to watch the sunset.
With all the bars on board we were never thirsty. I drank mostly beer and my wife drank mostly Diet Coke. We got the Coke stickers which are a great deal. Drink prices weren't bad. A Coors Light was $4.54 with tax and gratuity. A Dos Equis was a little higher. The only non-beer beverage I had at the pool was a Mojito and it was $7.76. I think some of the blender drinks were in the $10.00 range. I thought the service at the bars was very good, and never had much of a wait.
We selected the Anytime Dining option and ate all evening meals in either the Island or Coral dining room. We never had to wait for a table. We requested a table for 4 most nights although we did share a table with 4 other people one evening. We thought the food was very good overall. We tried various things for the first time. My wife liked some of the chilled soups. Since we had Anytime Dining, we had a different waiter each night. All but one gave us excellent service. The one guy, whose name I don't recall, seemed indifferent.
We went to one of the big production shows by mistake, thinking we were seeing a ventriloquist. "Do You Wanna Dance" turned out to be pretty good entertainment. One of the few places on board that gets crowded is the Princess Theater and the Explorers Lounge when there's an act playing. Otherwise, you'd never know there were over 3000 other people on board. We caught the ventriloquist the next day. I don't recall his name (Michael something...) but he was hilarious. Another comedian we saw earlier in the week, not so much. They also had a juggling/balancing act that was pretty good who performed in the Piazza a couple of days. Don't sit close to them if you don't want to be part of their act as one of our friends found out!
One thing that others have mentioned, I thought compared to the Crown Princess, this ship moved around a LOT. Anytime we were underway you could feel the ship moving. My wife and her friend are both prone to motion sickness and never had any problems but you do feel the motion of the ocean.
Getting on and off the ship at the various ports of call was easy. Even when the lines were long, they moved quickly. Our disembarkation in San Juan could not have been easier. There were virtually no lines and we were out and on our way in minutes.
Overall it was an excellent cruise. The staff was friendly and helpful. The ship and our accommodations were great. We would go again in a heartbeat!
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