1. Home
  2. Cruise Reviews
  3. Caribbean Princess
Background Information We chose this cruise as we had Future Cruise Credits that were expiring, and the itinerary was very appealing. We had only been to Curacao once and Aruba for only a half day. We liked the order of the 2 sea days, 3 ports, and 2 sea days, and the More Ashore time in Curacao and Aruba was very unique. Travel to Embarkation Port By almost minutes to spare, we beat the arriving ice storm in St.Louis flying out to FLL the day before the cruise. Our new winter travel policy will be to leave 2 days in advance - it was way too stressful leading up to our departure! Hotel Information This time we tried out the Holiday Inn Express 17th Street for our pre-cruise night stay. Hotel prices were absolutely insane for some reason this weekend, so we opted to redeem IHG Guest Rewards points for a free night stay. The hotel is undergoing a large expansion - if existing guest room refurbishment is part of the project, then our room had not yet been renovated. Definite wear & tear signs in the bathroom especially. But the room was clean, the bed was comfortable, and the hotel is ideally located close to the port with lots of dining and shopping nearby. Embarkation Used Uber XL to get to the port. Cost about $8. Definitely the way to go vs hotel shuttle service. Arrived at port 10:15 am - we ignored Princess' new staggered boarding arrival time procedure which said for cabins on Aloha deck arrive between 12:30 and 1:00. I want to have the benefit of my Captains Club status, get any sign ups for onboard stuff done, and just maximize my time on the ship - it's part of the cruise I've paid for! They opened the doors to the terminal at 11:00. We got thru check-in and we were in the upstairs waiting area by 11:20. We started boarding by 11:45am, and all cabins were ready upon boarding. We started checking off our embarkation to-dos, unpacked our carry-on luggage in our cabin, and then headed up to Lido Deck for lunch. Our suitcases were delivered in our cabin when we returned from lunch. Muster drill was at 3:30pm, and sailaway was at 4:15pm. Then we headed to Outrigger Bar for the Cruise Critic sailaway party. Ship Information This was our first time on Caribbean Princess. She has some layout & features that are different from other similar ships in the fleet. Most notably the Piazza area is smaller - I don't know that claustrophobic is the right word but it's definitely compressed. There is no gelato at the International Cafe. The Princess brand merchandise gift shop (Calypso Cove) is the tiniest I have ever seen. So I certainly prefer the Piazza on the Gem class and of course the super size Piazza on the Royal class. Caribbean is now 13 yrs old. Showing wear & tear that you might expect. Areas of the ship seemed to have air conditioning challenges. Most if not all of the women's toilets by the Princess Theater weren't working. Caribbean is due for a dry dock in March so some of these issues should be addressed then hopefully. Shipboard announcements were made a few times on every sea day about activities onboard, including shopping and art auctions. One of the things that I dislike about Princess. Smoking is allowed in the casino and the areas outside reeked of it! It's also allowed on the port side of Skywalkers at night, so stay on the starboard side. Sabatini's has not been replaced with SHARE on this ship. Internet speed was usually decent to good on sea days. This was our first cruise getting to use Princess At Sea - the browser based app. We liked being able to view all the events and add to our personal event list those we were interested in (although there are some quirky user interface issues with custom events that IT quality assurance apparently missed!). We did think the messenger feature would be more useful if you could get audible/vibrate notifications on your device when someone messages you. Activities We had our Cruise Critic Meet & Greet in Skywalkers Lounge at noon on the first sea day. Had a nice size turnout and was pleased to see several of the officers/staff attend including the hotel director, entertainment director (the new position Princess just created across the fleet), and the cruise director. Played most of the morning and afternoon sessions of bingo on sea days. Bingo is held in Club Fusion, and they have a happy hour from 3pm-4pm buy one get one for $1. If you don't have the all-inclusive beverage package, this is a good deal! Skywalkers Lounge does a similar promotion from 11pm-Midnight every night. Went to Zumba class a couple times - it was offered once each sea day morning in Club Fusion. Attended the Disney trivia session and no surprise our team won! We each got a Princess Cruises carabiner as our fabulous prize. Entertainment We listened to the Crooners Bar piano player Brian Johnson a couple times before/after dinner. At Movies Under the Stars (MUTS), we saw the Packers-Cowboys divisional playoff game and two movies - The Magnificent Seven and Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. For some reason, they don't put the MUTS seat covers on the pool loungers. So everyone had to go get pool towels since the cushions were often damp from an earlier rain shower. Yet another weirdness about this specific ship. You could check out a MUTS blanket if you needed one. Saw the 9:15 show in Explorers Lounge with the comedian Troy Thirdgill. It was standing wall to wall with overflow into the hallway. He was pretty funny. Went to the 10:00pm show in the Princess Theater with comedian Troy Thirdgill. It was a packed house for his second night. Saw the production show Bravo which was new to us. It's just a revue of movie & Broadway tunes so no plot or theme, but lots of pretty dresses and the singing talent was quite good. Watched the Formal Gala Balloon Drop Party in the Piazza. On the last night of the cruise, we went to the International Crew Show in the Princess Theater. We always enjoy seeing the crew show. Dining Breakfast - We ate either in Horizon Court or had a lighter breakfast with a couple goodies from the International Cafe. Be sure to try the Chocolate Journeys chocolate & vanilla Breton - the inner chocolate filling is really good so definitely try this little oat cake! Lunch - On sea days, we would get pizza from Prego Pizzeria, selections from International Cafe or Horizon Court, or featured theme items in Cafe Caribe (Pasta Buffet, Asian - but no sushi was offered which was disappointing, Tex-Mex). On the 3rd sea day, they offered the Pub Lunch (but in Crown Grill instead of the Wheelhouse Bar like we're used to). We ate on-shore during our three port days - see port section for more info. Dinner - We had Anytime Dining as usual and ate in the dining room three times: 1) Embarkation Night - Tonight we went to the Coral Dining Room just after 7pm and had no wait to join a table of 6. I had the red snapper mojito ceviche starter, the frozen rum-infused piña colada soup, and the always available fettuccine alfredo (a Princess classic). Scott had the fuente de camarones al ajillo (aka garlic shrimp) starter, the smoked haddock and potato chowder, and the basa fish with pineapple-papaya salsa. For dessert, we both had the milky chocolate-hazelnut soufflé. This was one of the best dinners we had in the dining room. 2) Second Sea Day - Had an early dinner in the Coral Dining Room - arrived around 5:45 and waited about 15 min for a table for 2. I had the caribbean shrimp cocktail starter, seasonal field greens salad, and grilled seafood skewer with mango and lime salsa. Scott had the chicharrones de pollo starter, Bahamian pea soup n' dough boy, and roasted pork belly (Curtis Stone featured item). 3) Bonaire - Went to the Island Dining Room around 7:00 and had a short wait to be seated. Tonight's dinner theme was the Chef's Dinner. I had the twice baked goat cheese soufflé starter, Scott had the coconut red snapper ceviche starter, and we both had the seared diver scallops entree. For dessert, I had the chocolate lovers delight (dark chocolate truffle mousse, tiny gateau opera, hazelnut chocolate parfait) and Scott had the chocolate peanut butter ice cream. Another excellent meal in the dining room. One of the perks we got with booking this cruise was one free specialty dining so we opted to use it for Crown Grill since it was Formal Night again. Scott had the Black Tiger Prawn and Papaya Salpicon starter, the Shrimp & Pancetta Bisque soup, and the Ribeye steak with loaded baked potato and grilled asparagus. I had the Pan-Seared Pacific Scallops starter, the Marinated Goat Cheese & Heirloom Tomato Salad, and the 4oz Maine Lobster Tails. I could/should have ordered sides as well or even another seafood entree, as the lobster tails don't come with any side and strangely our waiter didn't mention this or ask me if I'd like other sides. For dessert, we both ordered the Chocolate Journeys featured item Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar - this was the finest Chocolate Journeys item we had all cruise! We ate on-shore in Curacao and Aruba - see port section for more info. The remaining nights we kept it super casual and just got food in Horizon Court or pizza from Prego Pizzeria to eat on deck while watching MUTS. Dessert/Snacks - Horizon Court for Chocolate Journeys dessert almond chocolate coffee cake and Chocolate Journeys white chocolate mousse cake, International Cafe for white & chocolate mousse parfait, Scoops for soft serve cones/milkshakes and popcorn, We attended the Elite/Suite/Platinum Cocktail Party three times during the cruise. The food action station varied each night - the nights we went it was "Authentic Mexican Salsa with Tortilla Chips", "Herb-Marinated Goat's Cheese w/ Crisp Rosemary Flatbread and Tomato Bruschetta", and "Shrimp Fountain w/ American Cocktail Sauce". Very pleased to see that the $5 drink special was no longer restricted to one specific drink for that night and if you don't go to the party that night you miss your chance. All 8 of the specials are available every night there's a party. Port & Shore Excursions Curacao We did an all day customized private tour with Gaby Lieuw of Sand & Stilletos.com. She took us to Christoffel National Park, a few beaches and scenic lookouts, one of the flamingo areas, lunch, and through a couple of the renovated neighborhoods that are part of the Unesco World Heritage Area. Outstanding tour - I really feel like I have a good appreciation for the island. Gabby was a great tour guide and well worth the $100pp cost. Regarding lunch, Gaby took us to a totally off the beaten path fisherman's wharf shack called Purunchi. For a steal of $34, Scott had a whole lion fish and I had a huge wahoo filet plus rice, salad, and lemonade. This is truly a place only found with the help of a local. Had dinner ashore at Gouverneur de Rouville right along the Willemstad waterfront. We had a goat cheese appetizer, I had the goat curry, and Scott had the steak special. Entrees were served with sides of cheesy potatoes, rice with beans, and roasted vegetables. Everything was excellent. Plus free wifi. Aruba We did the ship's excursion to De Palm Island. It's an all inclusive food & drink (incl alcoholic) beach getaway. Lunch was a Caribbean buffet with cold salads, chicken, grouper, pastas, rice, soup, and fruits. Snorkeling was included if you wanted. There were other free amenities (pool, water slides, zip line) as well as for a fee (helmet diving, massage). There is a turtle exhibit and a peacock exhibit. There were plenty of lounge chairs, and we were able to get chairs under a palapa. There were a few families, but it was mostly adults and it wasn't too crowded. The water area is shallow and it's rocky on the bottom so definitely plan to wear water shoes. We had a relaxing beach day which is exactly what I was looking to do in Aruba. Had dinner ashore at The Dutch Pancake House in the Renaissance Marketplace outdoor shopping mall. I had the Egyptian savory pancake and Scott had the Weinar Alt schnitzel. Both were gigantic and inexpensive. Plus free wifi. Bonaire In the morning, we went into town and did some shopping in a couple of the stores as well as at the open air market tents with local vendors in the central plaza. The downtown shopping are is more quaint than the more commercialized versions in Aruba or Curaçao. We had an afternoon snorkeling excursion with Woodwind. It was a short walk to the Divi Flamingo Casino which is where Woodwind's office / meeting point is located. There were about 25 people all of whom were from the ship. Woodwind is the #1 rated attraction on TripAdvisor and gets top accolades on Cruise Critic. We had wanted to book the morning tour, but it was fully booked when I had tried to make reservations. We found out when we arrived that 6 people were no shows for the morning - what inconsiderate behavior! Contrary to the email confirmation, they didn't take the payments before we started so we all boarded the catamaran. It took us over an hour to sail out to the Klein Bonaire Marine Park even though the island is only 5 miles off shore. During that time though, the three snorkel guides spent time with each of us choosing what snorkeling equipment we wanted to use. They have it all and you can get whatever you wanted - fins, half and full wetsuits, UV/rash guard tshirts, regular snorkel masks (with or with out prescriptions if you don't wear contacts, new full face masks that allow you to breathe thru your nose normally, head coverings, flotation belts, and noodles. I tried the full face mask as I have had trouble mastering the mouth breathing required with a normal mask. I loved the full face mask! I could relax and focus on enjoying all the fantastic sea creatures. Scott tried a prescription mask which worked well although he would sacrifice a little fuzzy vision for the ease of the full face mask next time. After getting everyone equipped, the lead guide Dee gave us snorkeling tips. Then we we were separated into three groups, each with a guide, and each group started getting into the water. Dee put us in her group since we were some of the least experienced snorkelers. The water temperature was very pleasant. Snorkeling in the Klein Bonaire park requires less effort because of the current or drift. I see why Bonaire is so highly rated for scuba & snorkeling! We saw an amazing variety of fish, sea cucumbers, and even a small reef turtle, and of course the coral reef. Dee would free dive to point out specific types of marine life. There was also a underwater photographer who went around taking photos of us and the marine life. We had about an hour in the water. After we got back on the catamaran we could have drinks of our choice and they served us a plate of local style meats, veggies, and noodles. We also could review the photos taken and if we wanted to purchase they were put on a USB thumb drive for $40. We chose to buy them since we forgot to check the battery on our waterproof camera we brought and it was dead. We also paid for the excursion $55pp on the return sail back - they take cash or VISA/MasterCard. We got back to shore and walked back to the ship by 4:20 just in time for all aboard at 4:30. We highly recommend Woodwind and would definitely do another snorkeling tour with them again in Bonaire. Overall, we really liked this island and will look forward to future cruises that feature this port stop. Disembarkation Since Regal Princess was in port with us they were docked at Princess' usual Terminal 2. We came in at Terminal 21 - first time we've been over on that side of Port Everglades. We had arranged the Princess transfer to FLL airport - probably last time we will do that since it costs $19pp and you end up being at the airport way too early for an afternoon flight. We will try Uber XL next time. We were in Aqua 1 so we spent less than 5 min in the Platinum Disembarkation Lounge before they called our group at 7:55am. We used the new Mobile Passport app (though we also had our Global Entry cards) and breezed thru customs by 8:10am. We got to the airport by 8:30am - plenty of time for our 12:15 flight. Service I heard some people complaining about the level of service they received from their cabin steward or the dining staff. Personally I didn't have any real issues. Our cabin steward Raul attended to the couple special requests we had, and he always kept our cabin well serviced. The dining staff in Horizon Court were usually very prompt in getting our desired beverages. And with a couple exceptions, we had good service in the bars & lounges. Tips & Tricks If you are Platinum status in Captains Circle, booking an 8n vs 7n cruise gets you 100 extra free Internet minutes. If you want complete privacy on your balcony, pick Riviera, Aloha, or Baja deck over Caribe or Dolphin, as the decks are terraced and Riviera/Aloha/Baja are completely covered from above. Contrary to the description of the Unlimited Soda & More beverage package, shakes & malts at Scoops ice cream are still included. Never miss the soufflés if they are offered on the main dining room dessert menu! Chips & salsa are usually offered during the afternoon snack lineup in Horizon Court. Use a bowl for the chips and a soup bowl for the salsa ("soup bowl salsa" as my husband coined it). If you don't mind ship motion, Skywalkers is a good place for daytime reading. On the quieter side unless there are some chatty groups or a game is taking place up there. Formal Night dress code doesn't apply to the specialty restaurants. Final Thoughts This was our 9th Princess cruise, so it always feels like "coming home". Sometimes we book a cruise for the itinerary primarily, sometimes for the ship, and sometimes for both. In this case, it was the itinerary: getting all three ABC islands with two having "More Ashore" time and bookended with 2 sea days is a really fantastic itinerary. The itinerary really made this cruise standout. We hadn't sailed on Caribbean Princess before so we got to check that box. However compared to other Princess ships we've sailed on like Royal, Ruby, and Emerald, Caribbean doesn't stack up as well. I much prefer the amenities, ship design, and public area space of these other ships, so Caribbean will be pretty low on my list for a repeat cruise.

Southern Caribbean (ABC Islands) - Caribbean Princess 8n

Caribbean Princess Cruise Review by macusr

5 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Background Information

We chose this cruise as we had Future Cruise Credits that were expiring, and the itinerary was very appealing. We had only been to Curacao once and Aruba for only a half day. We liked the order of the 2 sea days, 3 ports, and 2 sea days, and the More Ashore time in Curacao and Aruba was very unique.

Travel to Embarkation Port

By almost minutes to spare, we beat the arriving ice storm in St.Louis flying out to FLL the day before the cruise. Our new winter travel policy will be to leave 2 days in advance - it was way too stressful leading up to our departure!

Hotel Information

This time we tried out the Holiday Inn Express 17th Street for our pre-cruise night stay. Hotel prices were absolutely insane for some reason this weekend, so we opted to redeem IHG Guest Rewards points for a free night stay. The hotel is undergoing a large expansion - if existing guest room refurbishment is part of the project, then our room had not yet been renovated. Definite wear & tear signs in the bathroom especially. But the room was clean, the bed was comfortable, and the hotel is ideally located close to the port with lots of dining and shopping nearby.

Embarkation

Used Uber XL to get to the port. Cost about $8. Definitely the way to go vs hotel shuttle service.

Arrived at port 10:15 am - we ignored Princess' new staggered boarding arrival time procedure which said for cabins on Aloha deck arrive between 12:30 and 1:00. I want to have the benefit of my Captains Club status, get any sign ups for onboard stuff done, and just maximize my time on the ship - it's part of the cruise I've paid for!

They opened the doors to the terminal at 11:00. We got thru check-in and we were in the upstairs waiting area by 11:20. We started boarding by 11:45am, and all cabins were ready upon boarding.

We started checking off our embarkation to-dos, unpacked our carry-on luggage in our cabin, and then headed up to Lido Deck for lunch.

Our suitcases were delivered in our cabin when we returned from lunch. Muster drill was at 3:30pm, and sailaway was at 4:15pm. Then we headed to Outrigger Bar for the Cruise Critic sailaway party.

Ship Information

This was our first time on Caribbean Princess. She has some layout & features that are different from other similar ships in the fleet. Most notably the Piazza area is smaller - I don't know that claustrophobic is the right word but it's definitely compressed. There is no gelato at the International Cafe. The Princess brand merchandise gift shop (Calypso Cove) is the tiniest I have ever seen. So I certainly prefer the Piazza on the Gem class and of course the super size Piazza on the Royal class.

Caribbean is now 13 yrs old. Showing wear & tear that you might expect. Areas of the ship seemed to have air conditioning challenges. Most if not all of the women's toilets by the Princess Theater weren't working. Caribbean is due for a dry dock in March so some of these issues should be addressed then hopefully.

Shipboard announcements were made a few times on every sea day about activities onboard, including shopping and art auctions. One of the things that I dislike about Princess.

Smoking is allowed in the casino and the areas outside reeked of it! It's also allowed on the port side of Skywalkers at night, so stay on the starboard side.

Sabatini's has not been replaced with SHARE on this ship.

Internet speed was usually decent to good on sea days. This was our first cruise getting to use Princess At Sea - the browser based app. We liked being able to view all the events and add to our personal event list those we were interested in (although there are some quirky user interface issues with custom events that IT quality assurance apparently missed!). We did think the messenger feature would be more useful if you could get audible/vibrate notifications on your device when someone messages you.

Activities

We had our Cruise Critic Meet & Greet in Skywalkers Lounge at noon on the first sea day. Had a nice size turnout and was pleased to see several of the officers/staff attend including the hotel director, entertainment director (the new position Princess just created across the fleet), and the cruise director.

Played most of the morning and afternoon sessions of bingo on sea days. Bingo is held in Club Fusion, and they have a happy hour from 3pm-4pm buy one get one for $1. If you don't have the all-inclusive beverage package, this is a good deal! Skywalkers Lounge does a similar promotion from 11pm-Midnight every night.

Went to Zumba class a couple times - it was offered once each sea day morning in Club Fusion.

Attended the Disney trivia session and no surprise our team won! We each got a Princess Cruises carabiner as our fabulous prize.

Entertainment

We listened to the Crooners Bar piano player Brian Johnson a couple times before/after dinner.

At Movies Under the Stars (MUTS), we saw the Packers-Cowboys divisional playoff game and two movies - The Magnificent Seven and Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. For some reason, they don't put the MUTS seat covers on the pool loungers. So everyone had to go get pool towels since the cushions were often damp from an earlier rain shower. Yet another weirdness about this specific ship. You could check out a MUTS blanket if you needed one.

Saw the 9:15 show in Explorers Lounge with the comedian Troy Thirdgill. It was standing wall to wall with overflow into the hallway. He was pretty funny.
Went to the 10:00pm show in the Princess Theater with comedian Troy Thirdgill. It was a packed house for his second night.

Saw the production show Bravo which was new to us. It's just a revue of movie & Broadway tunes so no plot or theme, but lots of pretty dresses and the singing talent was quite good.

Watched the Formal Gala Balloon Drop Party in the Piazza.

On the last night of the cruise, we went to the International Crew Show in the Princess Theater. We always enjoy seeing the crew show.

Dining

Breakfast - We ate either in Horizon Court or had a lighter breakfast with a couple goodies from the International Cafe. Be sure to try the Chocolate Journeys chocolate & vanilla Breton - the inner chocolate filling is really good so definitely try this little oat cake!

Lunch - On sea days, we would get pizza from Prego Pizzeria, selections from International Cafe or Horizon Court, or featured theme items in Cafe Caribe (Pasta Buffet, Asian - but no sushi was offered which was disappointing, Tex-Mex). On the 3rd sea day, they offered the Pub Lunch (but in Crown Grill instead of the Wheelhouse Bar like we're used to). We ate on-shore during our three port days - see port section for more info.

Dinner - We had Anytime Dining as usual and ate in the dining room three times:
1) Embarkation Night - Tonight we went to the Coral Dining Room just after 7pm and had no wait to join a table of 6. I had the red snapper mojito ceviche starter, the frozen rum-infused piña colada soup, and the always available fettuccine alfredo (a Princess classic). Scott had the fuente de camarones al ajillo (aka garlic shrimp) starter, the smoked haddock and potato chowder, and the basa fish with pineapple-papaya salsa. For dessert, we both had the milky chocolate-hazelnut soufflé. This was one of the best dinners we had in the dining room.
2) Second Sea Day - Had an early dinner in the Coral Dining Room - arrived around 5:45 and waited about 15 min for a table for 2. I had the caribbean shrimp cocktail starter, seasonal field greens salad, and grilled seafood skewer with mango and lime salsa. Scott had the chicharrones de pollo starter, Bahamian pea soup n' dough boy, and roasted pork belly (Curtis Stone featured item).
3) Bonaire - Went to the Island Dining Room around 7:00 and had a short wait to be seated. Tonight's dinner theme was the Chef's Dinner. I had the twice baked goat cheese soufflé starter, Scott had the coconut red snapper ceviche starter, and we both had the seared diver scallops entree. For dessert, I had the chocolate lovers delight (dark chocolate truffle mousse, tiny gateau opera, hazelnut chocolate parfait) and Scott had the chocolate peanut butter ice cream. Another excellent meal in the dining room.
One of the perks we got with booking this cruise was one free specialty dining so we opted to use it for Crown Grill since it was Formal Night again. Scott had the Black Tiger Prawn and Papaya Salpicon starter, the Shrimp & Pancetta Bisque soup, and the Ribeye steak with loaded baked potato and grilled asparagus. I had the Pan-Seared Pacific Scallops starter, the Marinated Goat Cheese & Heirloom Tomato Salad, and the 4oz Maine Lobster Tails. I could/should have ordered sides as well or even another seafood entree, as the lobster tails don't come with any side and strangely our waiter didn't mention this or ask me if I'd like other sides. For dessert, we both ordered the Chocolate Journeys featured item Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar - this was the finest Chocolate Journeys item we had all cruise!
We ate on-shore in Curacao and Aruba - see port section for more info.
The remaining nights we kept it super casual and just got food in Horizon Court or pizza from Prego Pizzeria to eat on deck while watching MUTS.

Dessert/Snacks - Horizon Court for Chocolate Journeys dessert almond chocolate coffee cake and Chocolate Journeys white chocolate mousse cake, International Cafe for white & chocolate mousse parfait, Scoops for soft serve cones/milkshakes and popcorn,

We attended the Elite/Suite/Platinum Cocktail Party three times during the cruise. The food action station varied each night - the nights we went it was "Authentic Mexican Salsa with Tortilla Chips", "Herb-Marinated Goat's Cheese w/ Crisp Rosemary Flatbread and Tomato Bruschetta", and "Shrimp Fountain w/ American Cocktail Sauce". Very pleased to see that the $5 drink special was no longer restricted to one specific drink for that night and if you don't go to the party that night you miss your chance. All 8 of the specials are available every night there's a party.

Port & Shore Excursions

Curacao
We did an all day customized private tour with Gaby Lieuw of Sand & Stilletos.com. She took us to Christoffel National Park, a few beaches and scenic lookouts, one of the flamingo areas, lunch, and through a couple of the renovated neighborhoods that are part of the Unesco World Heritage Area. Outstanding tour - I really feel like I have a good appreciation for the island. Gabby was a great tour guide and well worth the $100pp cost. Regarding lunch, Gaby took us to a totally off the beaten path fisherman's wharf shack called Purunchi. For a steal of $34, Scott had a whole lion fish and I had a huge wahoo filet plus rice, salad, and lemonade. This is truly a place only found with the help of a local.
Had dinner ashore at Gouverneur de Rouville right along the Willemstad waterfront. We had a goat cheese appetizer, I had the goat curry, and Scott had the steak special. Entrees were served with sides of cheesy potatoes, rice with beans, and roasted vegetables. Everything was excellent. Plus free wifi.

Aruba
We did the ship's excursion to De Palm Island. It's an all inclusive food & drink (incl alcoholic) beach getaway. Lunch was a Caribbean buffet with cold salads, chicken, grouper, pastas, rice, soup, and fruits. Snorkeling was included if you wanted. There were other free amenities (pool, water slides, zip line) as well as for a fee (helmet diving, massage). There is a turtle exhibit and a peacock exhibit. There were plenty of lounge chairs, and we were able to get chairs under a palapa. There were a few families, but it was mostly adults and it wasn't too crowded. The water area is shallow and it's rocky on the bottom so definitely plan to wear water shoes. We had a relaxing beach day which is exactly what I was looking to do in Aruba.
Had dinner ashore at The Dutch Pancake House in the Renaissance Marketplace outdoor shopping mall. I had the Egyptian savory pancake and Scott had the Weinar Alt schnitzel. Both were gigantic and inexpensive. Plus free wifi.

Bonaire
In the morning, we went into town and did some shopping in a couple of the stores as well as at the open air market tents with local vendors in the central plaza. The downtown shopping are is more quaint than the more commercialized versions in Aruba or Curaçao.
We had an afternoon snorkeling excursion with Woodwind. It was a short walk to the Divi Flamingo Casino which is where Woodwind's office / meeting point is located. There were about 25 people all of whom were from the ship. Woodwind is the #1 rated attraction on TripAdvisor and gets top accolades on Cruise Critic. We had wanted to book the morning tour, but it was fully booked when I had tried to make reservations. We found out when we arrived that 6 people were no shows for the morning - what inconsiderate behavior!
Contrary to the email confirmation, they didn't take the payments before we started so we all boarded the catamaran. It took us over an hour to sail out to the Klein Bonaire Marine Park even though the island is only 5 miles off shore. During that time though, the three snorkel guides spent time with each of us choosing what snorkeling equipment we wanted to use. They have it all and you can get whatever you wanted - fins, half and full wetsuits, UV/rash guard tshirts, regular snorkel masks (with or with out prescriptions if you don't wear contacts, new full face masks that allow you to breathe thru your nose normally, head coverings, flotation belts, and noodles. I tried the full face mask as I have had trouble mastering the mouth breathing required with a normal mask. I loved the full face mask! I could relax and focus on enjoying all the fantastic sea creatures. Scott tried a prescription mask which worked well although he would sacrifice a little fuzzy vision for the ease of the full face mask next time. After getting everyone equipped, the lead guide Dee gave us snorkeling tips. Then we we were separated into three groups, each with a guide, and each group started getting into the water. Dee put us in her group since we were some of the least experienced snorkelers. The water temperature was very pleasant. Snorkeling in the Klein Bonaire park requires less effort because of the current or drift. I see why Bonaire is so highly rated for scuba & snorkeling! We saw an amazing variety of fish, sea cucumbers, and even a small reef turtle, and of course the coral reef. Dee would free dive to point out specific types of marine life. There was also a underwater photographer who went around taking photos of us and the marine life. We had about an hour in the water. After we got back on the catamaran we could have drinks of our choice and they served us a plate of local style meats, veggies, and noodles. We also could review the photos taken and if we wanted to purchase they were put on a USB thumb drive for $40. We chose to buy them since we forgot to check the battery on our waterproof camera we brought and it was dead. We also paid for the excursion $55pp on the return sail back - they take cash or VISA/MasterCard. We got back to shore and walked back to the ship by 4:20 just in time for all aboard at 4:30. We highly recommend Woodwind and would definitely do another snorkeling tour with them again in Bonaire. Overall, we really liked this island and will look forward to future cruises that feature this port stop.

Disembarkation

Since Regal Princess was in port with us they were docked at Princess' usual Terminal 2. We came in at Terminal 21 - first time we've been over on that side of Port Everglades.

We had arranged the Princess transfer to FLL airport - probably last time we will do that since it costs $19pp and you end up being at the airport way too early for an afternoon flight. We will try Uber XL next time.

We were in Aqua 1 so we spent less than 5 min in the Platinum Disembarkation Lounge before they called our group at 7:55am. We used the new Mobile Passport app (though we also had our Global Entry cards) and breezed thru customs by 8:10am. We got to the airport by 8:30am - plenty of time for our 12:15 flight.

Service

I heard some people complaining about the level of service they received from their cabin steward or the dining staff. Personally I didn't have any real issues. Our cabin steward Raul attended to the couple special requests we had, and he always kept our cabin well serviced. The dining staff in Horizon Court were usually very prompt in getting our desired beverages. And with a couple exceptions, we had good service in the bars & lounges.

Tips & Tricks

If you are Platinum status in Captains Circle, booking an 8n vs 7n cruise gets you 100 extra free Internet minutes.
If you want complete privacy on your balcony, pick Riviera, Aloha, or Baja deck over Caribe or Dolphin, as the decks are terraced and Riviera/Aloha/Baja are completely covered from above.
Contrary to the description of the Unlimited Soda & More beverage package, shakes & malts at Scoops ice cream are still included.
Never miss the soufflés if they are offered on the main dining room dessert menu!
Chips & salsa are usually offered during the afternoon snack lineup in Horizon Court. Use a bowl for the chips and a soup bowl for the salsa ("soup bowl salsa" as my husband coined it).
If you don't mind ship motion, Skywalkers is a good place for daytime reading. On the quieter side unless there are some chatty groups or a game is taking place up there.
Formal Night dress code doesn't apply to the specialty restaurants.

Final Thoughts

This was our 9th Princess cruise, so it always feels like "coming home". Sometimes we book a cruise for the itinerary primarily, sometimes for the ship, and sometimes for both. In this case, it was the itinerary: getting all three ABC islands with two having "More Ashore" time and bookended with 2 sea days is a really fantastic itinerary. The itinerary really made this cruise standout. We hadn't sailed on Caribbean Princess before so we got to check that box. However compared to other Princess ships we've sailed on like Royal, Ruby, and Emerald, Caribbean doesn't stack up as well. I much prefer the amenities, ship design, and public area space of these other ships, so Caribbean will be pretty low on my list for a repeat cruise.
macusr’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
Onboard Experience
Free Price Drop Alerts
Get Caribbean Princess price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email
By proceeding, you agree to Cruise Critic’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Cabin Review

Balcony
Cabin BB A605
We booked a standard balcony stateroom mid-ship on Aloha deck. Caribbean had not gotten the new Princess Luxury Beds as of our cruise so we did request the egg crate topper. So although the bed was not ultra luxurious, it was comfortable enough that we didn't have any back aches - though the pillows left a lot to be desired.
All the usual balcony stateroom features - desk, 2 chairs, small round table, fridge, etc. Balcony size is good with 2 chairs and a small table and plenty of room to maneuver around. Unfortunately the bulky block hair dryer is installed and the shower has the beloved butt clinging shower curtain. The hair dryer stopped working the first day and we called for maintenance - they replaced it with a new one. The in cabin TV/movie entertainment system is definitely showing its age. Time to modernize these cabins!
Aloha Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Beach
    We did the ship's excursion to De Palm Island. It's an all inclusive food & drink (incl alcoholic) beach getaway. Snorkeling was included if you wanted. There were other free amenities (pool, water slides, zip line) as well as for a fee (helmet diving, massage). There is a turtle exhibit and a peacock exhibit. There were plenty of lounge chairs, and we were able to get chairs under a palapa. There were a few families, but it was mostly adults and it wasn't too crowded. The water area is shallow and it's rocky on the bottom so definitely plan to wear water shoes. We had a relaxing beach day which is exactly what I was looking to do in Aruba.
    View All 115 Beach Reviews
  • Snorkeling
    We had an afternoon snorkeling excursion with Woodwind. It was a short walk to the Divi Flamingo Casino which is where Woodwind's office / meeting point is located. There were about 25 people all of whom were from the ship. Woodwind is the #1 rated attraction on TripAdvisor and gets top accolades on Cruise Critic. We had wanted to book the morning tour, but it was fully booked when I had tried to make reservations. We found out when we arrived that 6 people were no shows for the morning - what inconsiderate behavior!
    Contrary to the email confirmation, they didn't take the payments before we started so we all boarded the catamaran. It took us over an hour to sail out to the Klein Bonaire Marine Park even though the island is only 5 miles off shore. During that time though, the three snorkel guides spent time with each of us choosing what snorkeling equipment we wanted to use. They have it all and you can get whatever you wanted - fins, half and full wetsuits, UV/rash guard tshirts, regular snorkel masks (with or with out prescriptions if you don't wear contacts, new full face masks that allow you to breathe thru your nose normally, head coverings, flotation belts, and noodles. I tried the full face mask as I have had trouble mastering the mouth breathing required with a normal mask. I loved the full face mask! I could relax and focus on enjoying all the fantastic sea creatures. Scott tried a prescription mask which worked well although he would sacrifice a little fuzzy vision for the ease of the full face mask next time. After getting everyone equipped, the lead guide Dee gave us snorkeling tips. Then we we were separated into three groups, each with a guide, and each group started getting into the water. Dee put us in her group since we were some of the least experienced snorkelers. The water temperature was very pleasant. Snorkeling in the Klein Bonaire park requires less effort because of the current or drift. I see why Bonaire is so highly rated for scuba & snorkeling! We saw an amazing variety of fish, sea cucumbers, and even a small reef turtle, and of course the coral reef. Dee would free dive to point out specific types of marine life. There was also a underwater photographer who went around taking photos of us and the marine life. We had about an hour in the water. After we got back on the catamaran we could have drinks of our choice and they served us a plate of local style meats, veggies, and noodles. We also could review the photos taken and if we wanted to purchase they were put on a USB thumb drive for $40. We chose to buy them since we forgot to check the battery on our waterproof camera we brought and it was dead. We also paid for the excursion $55pp on the return sail back - they take cash or VISA/MasterCard. We got back to shore and walked back to the ship by 4:20 just in time for all aboard at 4:30. We highly recommend Woodwind and would definitely do another snorkeling tour with them again in Bonaire. Overall, we really liked this island and will look forward to future cruises that feature this port stop.
    View All 157 Snorkeling Reviews
  • Island Tour
    We did an all day customized private tour with Gaby Lieuw of Sand & Stilletos.com. She took us to Christoffel National Park, a few beaches and scenic lookouts, one of the flamingo areas, lunch at her favorite fish restaurant, and through a couple of the renovated neighborhoods that are part of the Unesco World Heritage Area. Outstanding tour - I really feel like I have a good appreciation for the island. Gabby was a great tour guide and well worth the $100pp cost.
    View All 203 Island Tour Reviews
  • Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
    Always enjoy leaving out of of Ft. Lauderdale. Great pre-cruise dining and activities to enjoy.
    View All 1,985 Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades) Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades) Cruise Port Review