Not Perfect-But Still Two Thumbs Up: Caribbean Princess Cruise Review by Viperdiver

Caribbean Princess 4
Member Since 2009

Overall Member Rating

Not Perfect-But Still Two Thumbs Up

Sail Date: November 2009
Destination: Southern Caribbean
Embarkation: San Juan
Our November 15th Southern Caribbean sailing on the Caribbean Princess was our 10th cruise and the second on Princess. Although not a perfect cruise, we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of this cruise in light of what it cost.

We has spent a week travelling in Puerto Rico beforehand and as a result we drove in to San Juan that day, arriving at the dock about 5pm. This meant that most of whatever check in "crush" had long since subsided, and we were on the ship in about 10 minutes-a great first impression. (Apparently we could have checked in as late as 9 pm, and that sort of flexibility is a great advantage it seems to me.)

First impressions of the ship were good-relatively new and well maintained. We had booked a balcony cabin for the first time in our cruising lives and were looking forward to that experience. Unfortunately a disappointment was soon encountered, as a number of adjacent cabins housed smokers (including cigar smokers). While sailing out of More port and on numerous subsequent occasions during the cruise we (non smokers) were driven indoors in order to escape the fumes. As first time balcony cruisers we never even thought about the possibility of this being an issue, but we will next time. Hopefully if there is a next time on Princess they will have figured out how to separate the smokers and non smokers into port/starboard balcony cabins to ensure as much as possible that neither intrudes on the other in this respect.

Nothing else remarkable to say about the stateroom-cozy, but well equipped (the fridge is a nice touch even if it only kept things cool rather than cold).

Other facilities we enjoyed included the fitness room- well equipped, but can they please put up a sign saying that the treadmills won't get turned on until 8 am due to possibly disturbing sleeping passengers?

Other reviews have mentioned that the ship seems too big. This was the largest ship we had ever been on by a wide margin, and we liked the size-not only because the walking from one end to the other and up and down the stairs tended to help exercise off the big meals, but also because it was too large to get bored of by the 7th day of the cruise.

Speaking of food, we felt that it was a cut above most of the other cruises we had been on (admittedly, we have not been on Celebrity and some of the other lines well known for their food quality). In particular, the buffet restaurants seemed to have better selection, ambiance and quality than the other cruises we have been on. We splurged for Sabbatini's, the Italian specialty restaurant the last night and it was worth the extra cover charge for one evening. We also enjoyed the pizza counter on the pool deck.

Service was excellent throughout the ship. Our cabin steward was particularly good-very engaging and eager to please.

Entertainment was a disappointment I'm afraid. We went to most of the big "shows" in the theatre and in our opinion, if you didn't see any of them you wouldn't have missed much. I think my (now deceased) parents might have liked the lounge/cabaret entertainers (i.e. fairly sedate), but I missed not having a venue on the ship where my wife and I could dance to a band that played the baby boomer music of the 60's to 80's that we grew up with. (We thought this was a "staple" based on other cruises we have been on). We did like the theater under the stars concept however.

Our choice of cruises and cruise lines is largely dictated by the selection of ports. Of the 6 ports on this cruise 4 were ports we had never visited, and all of the ports were well worth a visit. Further details are in the Port Reviews section of this review.

Disembarkation was also a breeze- 10 minutes and off the ship-we barely had time for breakfast.

On balance this was a very enjoyable cruise. We wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to friends and we will certainly consider using Princess in future for cruising. Less

Published 12/04/09

Cabin review: BalR322

A bit noisy-pool deck is directly above-but nice to have the overhang on the balcony in case of rain.

Port and Shore Excursions

Well, you win some, you lose some. We wanted to rent a car and drive around the island at our own pace to see what it had to offer. We didn't pre book though and the few agents for renting cars at the dock were swamped, so we got skunked. Best to pre book if you want to rent a car at this port. We ended up wandering around town for a while (the cathedral is certainly worth a quick look-unusual construction and there was a local church member around who was eager to tell the church's history.) In the afternoon we shared a taxi with another couple for a tour of the island. Our driver was a nice enough fellow but clearly he was new to the game and didn't understand that to get tips you had to try to make sure you entertain (or at least explain things to) the tourists. We wouldn't rush back to Antigua.

Read 1192 Antigua Reviews

Ok so you want a little adventure, and some time on the beach but you don't want to pay $100 for the 4x4 adventure or $60 for the snorkel with the turtles. Have I got a do it yourself tour for you. Walk the 15 minutes to the bus station and for $1 take one of the little yellow buses up the island to Payne Beach. You'll be the only tourists on the bus and you'd better like reggae music because it will be playing full blast on the trip. You'd also best be prepared for some adventurous driving-the words "careening down the road" spring to mind. When you get there, swim out the 100 yards to where the cruse ship's excursion boats are feeding the turtles, and swim or snorkel with them-for as long as you care to. Dry yourself off, and walk across the street to the little outdoor bar and have a couple of bottles of the local beer before heading back on the return trip on the little yellow bus-equally entertaining, but again not for the faint of heart.

Total cost of the excursion: $2 plus $2 per beer consumed. Value of the experience: Priceless.

Read 1226 Barbados Reviews

The home stretch. We spent a day here after the cruise. It's a really nice mix of historical sights (this time we toured the "El Morro" fort) and some decent restaurants and shopping.

Read 2976 San Juan Reviews

Big thumbs up for St. Lucia. This was another dive port for us, and another pre arranged dive, this time with Eastern Caribbean Divers. Two outstanding dives-relatively shallow, but tons of things to see. Note to certified divers, the dives we did appeared to be very close to the dive shop of Eastern Carribbean Divers and were quite close to shore-if the rest of the Island is anything like those dives, if you bring your own gear shore diving might be quite doable.

We also wandered around town a bit here. We were very impressed with how friendly and helpful the locals were, and Castries seemed relatively authentic for a cruise ship port. We enjoyed walking around for a couple of hours, soaking up the local color.

Read 1136 St. Lucia Reviews

Poor weather thwarted our attempt to take the ferry to St John where we were to hike in the National Park to a secluded beach.(This is a great do it yourself shore excursion-if you like the outdoors it is a great alternative to St Thomas which in my opinion has little to offer.) St. Thomas's "famous" shopping is highly overrated. The Princess dock is a ways out of town as well, forcing you to take a cab, or walk for 20 minutes. Note however there is a small supermarket just down the street from the dock which is a convenient spot to pick up drinks etc for consuming on board.

Read 4002 St. Thomas Reviews

We advance booked a scuba dive excursion (not through the ship) with Blue Water Divers, at Nanny Cay, a 10 minute cab ride from the dock. We did a two tank dive on the Wreck of the Rhone, which we highly recommend to certified divers. This is a dive that the ships excursion also does (at a 50% price premium of course). Blue Water was great-our dive master Gary entertained us with all the stories surrounding the 1867 sinking of the ship, and the complimentary cold beers after the dives were an added bonus.

We also spent some time wandering around Road Town before getting back on the ship. Not enough time to do anything much but look around a few of the shops, but it seemed like a pleasant little town.

Read 1239 Tortola Reviews

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