I'm 56 years old and this was my first cruise. I have no good explanation for why that is other than I have been busy traveling doing other things. I chose Princess because of other people's reviews about Princess and what they did best, worst, and fair. As it turns out, their "bests" ticked all my interests so I chose them. Okay, and I confess that as a child of the 70s, The Love Boat may also have influenced me - DON'T JUDGE ME. The first thing I noticed is that getting on the boat is amazingly easy because Princess runs it like a well-oiled machine. Dropped off luggage from the Lyft driver and I was done without any heavy lifting.I barely stood in lines and waited at all. It was just walking on with some stops showing IDs and getting my cruise card and map. Before I knew it, we were on board. In other great news, I clearly do not have a motion sickness issue because that ship was rocking and rolling for the first 3 days due to the Nor'easter that had worked its way down to the Bahamas. If those 20 foot swells and the rolling and pitching didn't bother me, I think I was born to cruise. Never had to even break out the Dramamine or patches.
We had purchased the Premier Beverage Package and immediately began "testing" its limits - no we didn't immediately get drunk - we started with Lattes and the card worked like a dream. Admittedly, there was a lot of drink orders throughout the day - I had more strawberry daiquiris during my 7 days on board the Regal Princess than I did my Freshman year of College in 1980 - and THAT is saying something. We experimented with other drinks as well as the choices seemed never-ending and servers were constantly asking what they could get us. That being said, we never really got "drunk" because we constantly rotated between alcoholic beverages and water and pop(soda). 56 year old me was a lot more responsible than 18 year old me - thank goodness. My only complaint - the upcharges for things at dinner that would typically be free outside the dining room confused me. It wasn't ever that much, but I'm a lawyer and I tried to figure out their policy on this and it made my head hurt. I didn't complain too much, however, because our dinner waiters (Daniel and Gabriel) were so great. Skilled and entertaining with senses of humor is my favorite combination for wait staff.
We did not do any "up charge" dining and ate in the Concerto Dining room each night at 5:30 p.m. (except when we goofed on the time change). I have to say, I don't feel like I missed out on anything - our food was sensational. We did not really do "the buffet" other than one morning where we literally grabbed scrambled eggs some bacon and fried potatoes and went out to our deck chairs. We ate at Alfredos twice and it was delicious. We didn't really do "breakfast" most days and I think for lunch we typically just grabbed a hot dog at the Trident Grill -- they were delicious -- so our "big" dining was limited to the Concerto Dining Room with the standard dinner choices. Again - thumbs way up on that.
The pool deck chair ratio issues might have been a problem but I'm maniacal about the pool and choice of placement. I was also an early riser so I was able to go up on deck by 8:00 am and had no trouble getting the deck chairs of choice right next to the pool. I really wanted to get a Cabana at the Retreat Pool but they were "sold out" by the time I tried to reserve one. Lesson learned - I should have been there the first day reserving. That being said, my early morning trek to the regular pool deck resulted in perfectly acceptable "free" pool seating. And just so you know, I was not one of the annoying people who marked my deck chair and left. I got up there at 8:00 am and sat down on my deck chair to read after putting on SPF 50 (I'm from Minnesota and am pale so I truly needed the 50). Swimming was lovely - the break up of the pool into the deep side and more shallow side for the most part screened out kids since we were on the deep side.
I'm a geek so I loved all the trivia and Princess Live games as well as the music in the bar venues and the Vista Lounge. Enjoyed listening to Voice of the Ocean and Karaoke. I did not see a single "big show" for one reason and that relates to my biggest complaint. There is literally no seating for "bigger" people and I admit I am one. I might be able to squeeze into a seat in part but it would be so painful for any length of time that the shows were off the table. I'm not shy or embarrassed about my weight and have no problem going straight up to staff and seeking accomodation and I did so at Princess Live. But man did I have to be assertive. I was first told no, sorry, but I persisted saying you have to have some chair with no sides or stool or something - so off he went and came back with an armless chair that was easy to put into the row of chairs (which were movable). Most of the staff was great about it after that. And believe me, I get space issues, but it took up no extra space to replace an armed chair with an armless one or stool on the end. No such luck at the Princess Theater. I saw a lot of "big" people on that ship and all I could think of was that those folks miss out on a lot of the scheduled entertainment when it would take so little effort to accomodate them. I suspect too that most are not as pushy as I am because at 56, and an attorney to boot, I'm not shy and refuse to be shamed or embarrassed to ask. I didn't have any problems anywhere else on the ship - just Princess Live (where they accommodated me) and the Princess Theater (where they did not). Luckily, I enjoyed the music in other venues but still . . .
Our mini-suite was great and I loved my balcony. It was kept clean and our steward was there with whatever we requested but was not invasive. I was worried that the smaller twin would be a problem but it was just fine even with my "large size."
The port stops were fine but I was a little disappointed in all of them in part because of Hurricane damage and the pushy selling at the port. Princess Cay would have been great if it weren't for the very rough surf. I managed to get some swimming in and those waves were fun to ride, but coming out was not my most dignified moment. I basically got thrown by a big wave up on to the beach like a stranded whale scraping up my elbow and taking more sand into my nether regions than any one woman should. This sweet lady walked down to help me and I looked at little her and looked at BIG me and suggested it might "take a village" but between the two of us I managed to get up, bloody, sandy, but able to return to my deck chair and cocktail! St. Thomas was a tour to the top and stories of the hurricane but the views were amazing. I missed St. Maarten because of an upper respiratory illness and ended up on the pool deck to bake it off. It was lovely with everyone there at port.
For the most part, Princess staff was lovely. The cruise director's staff were especially fun and friendly. The only questionable treatment I had the whole time (beyond the tiny chair issue) was at the front reception area when I was checking on my final bill. The man there was not the usual friendly staff I was use to. He was professional, but not exactly friendly.
My companion was not as enamoured with cruising as I was although the cruise grew on her but I suspect my next cruise (and there will be one!) will be a solo one with which I am fine.I found my fellow cruisers extremely friendly, and can't imagine ever being lonely traveling on my own.
The cabin itself is well designed. I loved the large closet area and shelving because it allowed us to not be tripping over our luggage. The Bathroom size was very generous and this comes from a "big" person. I wish the balcony was a bit larger but it was sufficient. Plenty of room to spread out with the extra sofa area. I would say that our location was such that it was about halfway between the two sets of elevators so there was no "fast route" to get to our room. The bright side of that is that there was very little noise from passengers in our hallway. When the balcony was open there was a very loud annoying whistle in the room so my dreams of leaving the balcony open over night so we could hear the ocean were scuttled pretty quickly. I was a bit annoyed because the smoke from others who smoked on their balconies would drift into our room if the balcony door was left open. The mini fridge in the room was barely keeping anything chilled let alone cold. That kind of sucked. All and all - it was a good room.
Hard to use given the surf.View All undefined undefined Reviews