First things first. The crew and staff on this ship are exemplary. I cannot fault them on anything. Especially our cabin steward - Jerry. That man is a true and pure gem. However, I can't say the same for one young man part of the guest services team - which I'll get to later. That boy needs to learn how to use a tissue and not the back of his hand.
Now on to the meat of it. Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly. We didn't get our medallions ahead of time because we live in Canada and they only ship them to the US. But that wasn't a problem as we had downloaded the app and were "ship ready" before we got there. Although I was annoyed that we got our embarkation email stating we wouldn't be able to get on board until 2:30 pm. When I called to ask if we could be bumped up to the first embarkation group (because I had medicine I needed to take in a clean and sterile-ish environment) - I was told that the earliest anyone could get on board would be 12:30. We arrived for 12:00 to check in, which went very quickly to be fair, only to find out that embarkation had already started at 11:00! We could have been on board 90 minutes sooner which would have equated to being able to get to the Sanctuary to book seating much sooner and not have to get waitlisted. (Read more on the Sanctuary further down).
Our steward - Jerry - was PHENOMENAL!!! He took exceptional care of us the entire cruise & ensured we had everything we needed. Our cabin was always clean and tidy. He is an extraordinary individual who clearly takes pride in his work. Always attentive, smiling, happy & just joyful. Princess should promote him.
The bed was deplorable. We had to have the mattress changed out on day 1 because when I sat down on it, I sank to the bottom (bed frame). I'm not a heavy woman at all. I should not have sunk down to the bottom. For Princess to call them "luxury beds" is laughable. Don't use old mattresses that should have been retired years ago and rebrand them as "luxury beds" because they're so soft they sink to the floor. Who do they think they're fooling?
The stateroom felt like it had the same decor as the day it first set sail in 2004. There has been no refurbishment of cabins - at least none that we saw. Perhaps they refurbished the suites but they definitely didn't touch any of the balcony cabins.
We love St. Thomas as we've been there before. We wanted to see if we could get to the same beach we'd been to before. Unfortunately, when we got there, we barely recognised it. The last hurricane that went through there had ravaged it and it wasn't the big beautiful pristine beach it was before. We had to scroll through our social media feeds from the last time we were there to make sure that we had the same beach because it was so different this time around.
If I could live here - I would. The water, the sand, the people! Oh my goodness and the food! I love Antigua!!! We hired a private taxi and he took us ALL over the island, from down south at Nelson's dockyard all the way through the rainforest and back again. What an amazing day! I wouldn't recommend any of the excursions offered through Princess though. We had an excellent time using a local private taxi guide. It was just us - no others with us. It cost us $140 for him to take us around the island for about 4 hours.
Unfortunately, it was Christmas Day here and not much was open so we weren't able to get around to see the island and the port itself isn't that nice. The excursions on offer didn't really appeal.
Again - nothing was open because we were here on boxing day. And being a British overseas territory, they celebrate boxing day. We walked around town a bit but since everything was closed there wasn't anything to see. We had wanted to do the Mount Gay rum tour that was on offer from the excursions desk but when we got on board the ship and went to talk to them about it we noticed it wasn't there. They said they had to remove it because they didn't realise the distillery wouldn't be open. Seriously? That's just poor planning on Princess' part.
Didn't enjoy Trinidad at all unfortunately. Shame we didn't get a chance to go over to Tobago. We walked around town - almost died in the heat! We did go to the museum - which is small but carries a lot of really interesting history. Highly recommend that. And it's free!
One of my favourites! Highly recommend that you hire a car from Advance Car Rental (www.advancecarrentalcuracao.com). Celestino is a marvel! He managed to get us a car at the last minute so we could drive ourselves around the island. And we did! We saw so much of the island it was extraordinary. What a beautiful country! I might have to retire there. The beaches and state parks were an awesome wonder. Just go off the beaten path - don't follow all the crowds and you'll find loads of gorgeous little coves and unspoilt quiet beaches to hang out in. Best seen with a car - for sure.
Another bucket list place that did not disappoint. Such a beautiful island. I just wish we had more time to see it. We tried to rent a car but we left it too late and there were none left. Not to mention that unless you get it from the airport, you run the risk of no one being there at the port office when you want to return it - island time and all.
We spent several hours on one of the beaches (about 20 min away) - can't remember the name of it. Typical resort beach - but that's what we wanted on that particular day. Sand so white and water so blue and warm - just gorgeous.