This was the first cruise for my wife and me, though we're generally seasoned world travelers and we've been to the Caribbean several times before (and whether it counts or not, we've stayed aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach). We're people who feel like we know what we're doing when we travel, and what to expect. We'd done a lot of research on this cruise before embarkation, and had seen some of the negative reviews of this ship after its recent drydock.
Thankfully, we had no real complaints. Oh sure, if we had to nitpick every little thing, we might say the in-cabin water was a little warm for toothbrushing, the photographs too expensive or the shows were a little short. But come on - is that really going to affect your enjoyment of your vacation? Do you *want* to be miserable?
We had a great time, and that was despite some less-than-ideal weather. The ship was rocking and rolling the first night, but we loved our food in the Da Vinci dining room and were happy to see we'd have a table for two for the duration of our cruise. The food was fantastic every night, with the notable exception of the desserts, which were visually beautiful but lacked flavor. I did enjoy the creme brulee (though it was always cold), but most desserts tasted like something you'd get out of the freezer case at the supermarket. We were usually too full by then to care, though, and the other courses were always really tasty and varied every night. Never once did we think it was worth springing for one of the extra fee restaurants.
We booked our shore excursions in advance and they were really some amazing memories I know we'll have for a long, long time. We chose to go snorkeling with the stingrays in Grand Cayman and ziplining through the Jamaican rainforest in Ocho Rios. The latter was actually quite strenuous, but we needed the physical activity after 3 days of lounging around doing not much other than eating and drinking. Definitely don't book this if you're not in good physical shape, though - one poor guy on our excursion had to drop out.
Service was always cordial at worst, friendly and efficient at best. Our cabin boy Raymond was great, and always fixed up our room (mini-suite D730 on D deck) twice a day. He also brought us welcome glasses of champagne on day 1, and made towel animals for us every morning. Our main waiter in the dining room was obviously experienced and had a real seaman's personality - occasionally I got the feeling he disapproved of my menu choices, but I'm a New Yorker, we expect that sort of thing. The one real service hiccup we had was just prior to disembarkation, when we were assigned to the wrong transfer bus - it took some time and some back and forth to get that corrected, but we finally did without too much fuss.
The ship itself is beautiful and we were never left wanting for something to do. We both thought it was logically laid out as well, although any big ship probably takes a day or two to get accustomed to. For some reason we couldn't figure out how to get to Skywalker's Lounge until the last night, but otherwise everything was easy to find. I was a little disappointed that the bow is only accessible on the small covered promenade deck walkway - there's no open-air walking around the bow area. I was a little surprised that just out of drydock, there was still a lot of wear and tear visible on our balcony, and some areas of the ship were still being touched up (the terrace pool at the stern was closed to be repainted and stained until day 3, for example). But again, these are fairly minor issues on a ship this big with this much to see and do.
We'll definitely cruise again, and while I can't say we'll definitely take Princess or this specific ship, if we do another cruise line it'll just be because we want to vary our experiences, not because we had any real problems on this cruise. We loved it. I know I can speak for my wife when I say we can highly recommend this ship. Don't get hung up on small stuff.
Decor in the cabin is a little basic, but there is plenty of space. Separate seating and sleeping areas, though no partition between them. Two separate TV's but you probably won't be watching them on separate channels because there's no soundproofing between them. Balcony is uncovered, but don't let this scare you unless you're planning on some topless sunbathing or something. Otherwise, it's a public ship anyway and everyone can see everyone, so just think of it the same as being by the pool and don't worry about it. Bathroom is a decent size, like a normal hotel room, though the shower is still "short" and tall people might have some trouble standing up straight. All cabins have new mattresses after the drydock and they are very comfortable.
Strenuous walk up the mountain and then ziplining back down. You need to be in good shape! It's a lot of fun, though. The last zipline is really long and really fast!
On your way back to the ship, be sure to stop at Ocean's 11 for some real Jamaican food! Our ship only stopped for a few hours so this was our only opportunity and we're glad we took it. You can probably get better Jamaican jerk elsewhere on the island, but it was still really good and it's in the port.
Kind of like a dingy old airport. No way to walk around the ship or take decent pictures before boarding.
Our excursion also included stops at the Turtle Farm, Hell and Rum Cake Factory, but the Stingray Swim was the real highlight. You'll ride on a small fishing boat out to a sandbar in the ocean where you can stand in four feet of water as the stingrays swim all around you. It's a little scary at first but really feels like something unique - something you'll probably never get to do again. The water's warm and beautiful and everybody's in the same boat (literally) so it becomes a really fun community experience as everyone's kind of shouting and laughing together. Had a great time doing this.View All 795 Stingray Swim Reviews