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Caribbean Princess Cruise Review
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
2,698 Reviews

First Princess experience mostly positive

Caribbean Princess Cruise Review by SignorinaPinguina

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Sep 2019
  • Destination: Canada & New England
  • Cabin Type: Mini-Suite with Balcony

Caribbean Princess seemed like a well-run and well-kept ship. Even with our itinerary change due to Hurricane Dorian, things went smoothly and efficiently. The lackluster food was my only real issue, but even then, there were plenty of decent options.

Embarkation in Brooklyn was smooth and quick with medallions. My only pet peeve was that the staff wouldn't accept my passport card for check-in even though a passport card was listed as an option and accepted during the online check in. (I did also have my passport book with me, so it was not a huge deal. It was just an annoyance to have to dig it out when I could have used it from the beginning if Princess was more consistent/clear about their policy.)

The food in the main dining room for dinner was generally underwhelming. Many dishes were too salty throughout all venues, including Crown Grill. Buffet selections were less plentiful and tasty than on the NCL and Celebrity ships I've sailed on. The breakfast buffet was quite good, though. The buzzer system for omelettes was the best and most efficient I've seen so far.

The crowd on this sailing was definitely on the older end of the spectrum, and the entertainment and activities were geared accordingly. Not much nightlife from what I saw. As a 30-something, there wasn't much that I felt was of interest to me. This wasn't really a negative however as I am fine with relaxing in the cabin/on my balcony. Also, because this was a port-intensive itinerary, I did not have much time to experience onboard activities.

The ship was clean, and the public spaces did not tend to feel crowded. I enjoyed the full promenade deck. This was the first ship I've been on with a true promenade where you can see over the bow.

The service was good overall.

The ports were nice. We were sad to have missed Bar Harbor due to Hurricane Dorian, but the change was handled well. My family did two excursions through Princess, one in Saint John and one in PEI. Both were organized well and we enjoyed them. The rest of the time we either did DIY touring or booked independent tours. I highly recommend Cabot Discovery Tours for Sydney, Nova Scotia. Halifax and Quebec City are fabulous places to explore on your own.


SignorinaPinguina's Full Rating Summary
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Onboard Experience
Value For Money
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Shore Excursions
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Cabin Review

Mini-Suite with Balcony

This minisuite is the last one on this side of the ship, so you have a bit of a wake view as well as the normal view from the balcony. This balcony is larger than others in the same category due to its position. The balcony is covered, unlike the same minisuite on the deck above. It is excellent for views and size, but the position was subject to some fumes from the ships exhaust stacks occasionally.

The room itself was clean, spacious enough for three adults, and very well maintained. Did not show ship’s age at all.


Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

Newport

I’ve been to Newport before and so did not do any excursions. Walked around town after a short tender ride and had a nice lunch. It’s a very walkable town with plenty to see right off the tender even on your own. Historic Trinity Church and it’s tiny old churchyard right across from tender port are open to the public. Lots of nice shops as well. Would recommend walking part of the cliff walk, although we did not on this trip. Note that it’s not near where the tender port is, nor are the mansions. Unless you have a special interest, I would not do more than one mansion as they can be repetitive. Definitely do a guided tour or at least an audio tour for the best experience.

New York (Manhattan)

I live in NY, so embarked only. Staff at the terminal was helpful and check-in was extremely quick.

The Brooklyn terminal is in the middle of nowhere, but out Lyft driver had no issues.

Boston

Due to an itinerary change, this became an overnight port call. I have been to Boston many times, so I did not do any excursions. The port itself is in an industrial area, and sights were not nearby or easily accessible on foot. It was the ugliest port area and terminal of the cruise, hands down. But the city has a lot to see and do once you make it out of the port. My family took Lyfts to Chinatown for a dim sum brunch. We then spent the afternoon at the New England Aquarium, which I’ve been to several times but always enjoy. Great rainy day option. We ended our day with a bowl of chowdah at Legal’s across the street from the aquarium. It’s a must do if you’re a chowder lover, and it certainly hit the spot on that chilly day.

Sea Caves Tour

There's not much to see in the immediate port area. My family went on the "St Martin and Sea Caves" excursion. This included stops at the reversing rapids, the sea caves/restaurant near St Martin, St Martin village, and the local market in Saint John. It was enjoyable overall, although it felt somewhat rushed at times. Narration from the local guide was informative.

The stop at the small local market at the end of the tour was a complete waste in my opinion as many of the stalls were closed the day we visited (Sunday). Would happily have eliminated it in favor of a little more time at the caves or somewhere else.

The tour began with a quick stop at the reversing rapids. Unfortunately, there's a large factory across the river from the viewing area, so it's really not that scenic unless you make an effort to look away from the huge smokestacks. The tour also ended with a second stop at the rapids so that we could see the reversal in the flow due to the massive tides in the Bay of Fundy. It's cool to see but not a must-do in my opinion. Based on my experience, I would not book a tour that is solely focused on the reversing rapids. Not much to see. Especially don't do a tour or stop here if you can't stay long enough or make two stops to see the reversing flow.

Next up was a drive to the sea caves near St Martin. There are some nice views along the way, but there's a lot of just plain highways and unscenic road as well. Hurricane Dorian had just passed through the area the day before our visit, so there were many trees down along the side of the road and in people's yards. The power was out for most of the area.

When we arrived at the sea caves, the first order of business was a chowder lunch (included in the cost of the excursion). Despite the power being out, the restaurant staff did their best to accommodate our group. The chowder was good, but the seating was cramped. They had our group at long communal tables, which were positioned very close together with one end next to a wall. That made it essentially impossible to get up until the rest of the tables did. It was an issue because of the limited time we had after lunch to explore the beach and caves. The restaurant is right on the beach, but the room we were in had little to no view.

When we made it outside, the beach and caves were splendid. You're not really meant to go into the caves. But if you have enough time and the tide is right, you can hike up close to them. Waterproof shoes are recommended if you want to walk on the beach. Keep in mind that it's rocky, so not a good idea for those with mobility issues. You still have great views if you don't go directly onto the beach.

St Martin village was the next stop. It's tiny but scenic, with two covered bridges and a cute little dock. The ice cream from the shop at the dock was tasty. There was not much to do other than take a few photos and browse one or two shops.

The tour wrapped up with the aforementioned stop at the market and a final look at the rapids.

View All 5 Sea Caves Tour Reviews
Halifax

Great port. Did not do an excursion. We walked along the beautiful boardwalk, took a fun duck boat tour, and visited the Maritime Museum. Lunch at The Bicycle Thief was very good.

The waterfront area was lovely and very walkable. Beautiful place to just sit and people watch if you like. We did just that for awhile as my mom was resting from all of the walking. Our pier was a bit far down, but it was a lovely sunny day for a walk (after Hurricane Dorian had just passed through).

The rest of the city is hilly and can climb rather steeply up from the water, so consider that if you’re planning to walk anywhere inland and away from the boardwalk area.

The Halifax Hopper duck boat was a good overview of the city. The tour was just the right length so that we had plenty of time to enjoy other activities.

The Maritime Museum is worth a stop for those interested in ships or history. The Titanic exhibit was moving and cool as there are artifacts from the ship. You can also learn about the Halifax Harbor disaster.

Not a lot to see in the immediate port area, although there is a nice park next to the pier. My family did not do a Princess excursion. We booked a semiprivate van tour with Cabot Discovery Tours, which I highly recommend. Our tour was a drive along parts of the scenic Cabot Trail. The views were very beautiful, and we were lucky to have fabulous sunny weather. The trail is somewhat far from the port, but it was worth the trip in my opinion. Being in a small group made it easy for us to make multiple photo stops, including at some places a large bus wouldn't be able to get to. The pace was much more comfortable and relaxed than the Princess excursions we went on during the cruise. We were able to enjoy a good, almost leisurely lunch at a local restaurant with a nice view of the water. Again, I highly recommend Cabot Discovery Tours based on our experience.

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I wish this had been a longer stop. There's a lot to see and do on PEI, and it's not possible to do it all in one day.

Downtown Charlottetown is reachable on foot from the pier, but it may be a bit far for those with more limited mobility.

My family started the day on the "Anne of Green Gables and Island Drive" excursion. I'm a huge Anne and LM Montgomery fan, so I was looking forward to visiting the Green Gables site. Unfortunately, it was a very nasty rainy day, so it was not conducive to really enjoying the visit to the site. I wasn't able to walk around the grounds at all.

We thankfully had enough time to view the Green Gables house itself, but I think it was mostly because we were lucky enough to be the first bus there. It got super crowded very quickly after we arrived, and I'm not sure we'd have been able to see much had we arrived later. So beware. Book the early time slot if you have the option. Try to save some time for the gift shop as they have some unique Anne merch.

The island drive portion of the tour was a little forgettable, TBH. Maybe in better weather we'd have been able to see more of the scenery, but it was mostly just normal homes and farms. The guide pointed out when we passed the gravesite of LM Montgomery. We did make a couple of photo stops. One was at the famous red cliffs, and the other was at the port of a small fishing community. The cliffs were great, but the little port was skippable.

Overall, I would probably not recommend this excursion for those who are not Anne fans, but I enjoyed it.

After our excursion dropped us back at the pier, we took a rainy walk into Charlottetown for lunch at Claddagh Oyster House. This was my favorite meal of the cruise. My husband and I enjoyed delicious PEI mussels and oysters, and my mom had great fish and chips. The shops and Cows Ice Cream shop were nice and fun to browse. Would have liked to see one of the Anne plays, but maybe next time.

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Quebec City

Did not do an excursion. We walked around the lower city and then took the funicular up to the upper city. We had quiche and cafe au lait for lunch at a sidewalk cafe, gelato on the promenade for a snack, and then dined on onion soup, salmon tartare, and poutine alfresco for dinner. We took full advantage of the ship being in port overnight and did not return until well after dark. Seeing the city lights at night and with fewer crowds was a treat. The city itself is the attraction here. It’s easy to enjoy the European atmosphere and picturesque architecture.


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