As this was a 10 day repositioning review, there were special activities on board and lots of opportunities for relaxation and fun. We flew into NEWARK and then went via Princess Transfer from the airport. It took a little over an hour in traffic, but overall went pretty smoothly, as we were the last people on that bus going to the port. The bus was very nice and worth it for us as we did not have to handle our luggage or an uber… Embarkation was a dream. We got our medallions in the mail, and therefore walked straight to security (which was a little congested right inside the door, but it was raining). There were helpful, smiling people and we got onboard very quickly. Then it was a mad dash to the spa. Our most important purchase of the trip, and the whole reason we went on this ship was "The enclave." We had read there there were only 40 passes sold, and since it was important to us, we did that first. In the end, it was a little disappointing. The enclave was VERY crowded and there were some VERY rude people the first three days (sea days). However, after that, the crowds thinned out once the weather got better and we got further south. More people were outside and less inside. However, I will say that they sold MANY more than 40 passes and even on a day when we were there and it was very crowded, they were still selling passes. They should have instituted some type of rule for an hour use when it was crowded, which would have made the experience much more relaxing. We started going and using the enclave at "off" times, before 10 am and late in the afternoon,, when people were headed to dinner.
The ship was beautiful and clean. We upgraded at the last minute to a regular balcony, and I am glad we did. I love just sitting and looking at the ocean. The balcony was tiny, but I still love having one. The staff was by and large friendly and helpful. We had no problems with any of them. Lost my glasses the first day and every day I went to the desk to ask to check lost and found. They were always nice.
Dining: We steer away from the buffet for a myriad of reasons (allergies and preferences), but the times we went, the head chef tried to help me and was kind. Look for the guy in the really tall hat, or find the head waiter (it will say it on her name tag) and she will help you find the right people to help. Food was fresh, hot and tasty (what we tried). We liked to grab our food and then go out on the back deck to eat. They had silverware and tables with someone getting you a drink out there as well. Much more pleasant than fighting for a table inside and eating in all that noise. A really cool thing I had not seen on other ships was an actual hand washing station at the buffet. NOT JUST GERMEX. It was soap, and water, and towels, then the person standing there reminding you to use the sanitizing gel as well. We did not get sick the whole trip. There are restrooms by each of the dining rooms and a place to throw away your towel after you use it to open the door OUTSIDE the restroom. It was really great! Main dining room. We were in the Concerto for Anytime dining at 5:15. That is really early for dinner, but it gave us more flexibility for our evening plans, so we liked it. Food was HOT, almost everything we ate we liked, and they accommodated my allergies by bringing me a menu for the next day and we figured out my plan for that meal. Several times, I said "I'm sure you can't do that with my allergies" (Eg: goat cheese soufflé) and they surprised me and they did! EVERY plate they put in front of me, they would say out loud "no Gluten, No onion". It made me feel super safe and relaxed me knowing they were so careful. Menu varied in this dining room quite a bit and the Braised Beef Ribs were the best thing I have had on a cruise ship. We did hear form other travelers that they were not satisfied with the menu. THat their menu was the same every night. I am not sure what happened for them. There was a standard menu each night, but then a daily menu that rotated. Our wait staff was a little slow, but they tried very hard to make sure they met our requests (even if it took a little while). The secret of this cruise for us was eating breakfast in the dining room instead of the buffett. Food was SO much better and the coffee was also great in the dining room. NOW: Pizza. The Pizza up on deck was just ok, the Pizza restarurant Alfredo's near the Piazza (ha) was amazing. Gluten free crusts, really great salads, and a baked ravoli dish that my husband really liked. We ate here for lunch many days.
Entertainment: Evening entertainment was geared toward older folks. We saw the musicals, and stayed away form Comedians. (our choice, we heard they were good). The orchestra was fantastic. There was a trumpet player onboard one night Dan Delgado who we enjoyed immensely! The orchestra did special concerts two of the nights in the Piazza and they were both fantastic. Since this was a 10 day, some other crew members besides the orchestra got in the act and sang and played too. It was great fun. Only complaint was finding a seat. My suggestion to Princess is to take out the gelato bar, and make more seating for the bars and the Piazza performances. They were always very crowded and if we wanted to go for a food demo or a performance or even just sit and listen to music after dinner, it was hard if not impossible to find a seat. (the gelato was ok, not great, and no one ever seemed to use it anyway). Fun extras like the Pop Princess Choir (Had a lot of fun rehearsing all week and the end performance was great) also only happen on these longer cruises. We didn't do bingo or trivia or any of those other things. Stayed away from healthseminars and just walked the walking track up on the 16th floor.
Ports: took a water taxi to St. Maarten Beach. Nice beach, but VERY windy and at least every 5 minutes someone stopped to ask us to buy a hat, a trinket or get a foot massage. It got OLD very quickly and was not the relaxing day we had planned. Went back to the ship and went to the retreat pool and read a book. Perfect.
Antigua: got off the ship, walked one block. Had at least 20 people ask us to take their taxi tour of the island. Told them no. Told them wanted to take a walk. They walked with us and hounded us. Back to the ship. Didn't feel safe.
Aruba: Booked a 4 hour tour of island. DELIGHTFUL! I was disappointed we did not go to the beach, but it looked nice, and safe. It was a very hot sunny day and we decided to once again to go back to the ship and relax there. It would have been totally ok to get off and shop and walk around. It looked like a nicer port.
We would do this again. 10 days was LONG. But in the end, we met our goals of relaxing and reconnecting on board. Princess did not disappoint.
Embarkation was a breeze. We carried our own things off, whisked through customs and caught an uber to the airport (a short 10 minute ride ).
Normal cabin room, not the delux. Midship on Aloha deck.
Took water taxi to beach. Paid $30 for two chairs and umbrella. Beer 5 for $10 bucket. Pretty windy and LOTS of people soliciting for foot rubs, selling hats and t shirts, braiding hair. At least every 5 minutes you were having to tell people no and it made it uncomfortable.
felt very unsafe leaving the ship. There were at least 50 people asking for you to take their tour in their taxi. We just wanted to walk. We were followed and bothered. About 10 minutes ashore and went back to the ship. Would MAYBE try an excursion sponsored by Princess, but never try what we did again.
had a wonderful luxury bus. Driver was great and we saw 5 spots, would stop to let us take pictures, and headed off to another one. Driver told us where bathrooms were and made thee day very enjoyable!View All 248 Island Tour Reviews