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Caribbean Princess Review

Another Pleasant Princess Cruise

Review for the Eastern Caribbean Cruise on Caribbean Princess
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mikepowie
10+ Cruises • Age 40s

Rating by category

Cabin
Value for Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Fitness & Recreation
Service

Additional details

Sail Date: Dec 2023
Cabin: Balcony

Overall: We recently came back from a 10-night Eastern Caribbean cruise over the Christmas holidays aboard the Caribbean Princess. We feel that Princess continues to offer a good cruise value, especially compared to some competing “premium” cruise lines, in most respects. The service (especially dining room and bar/lounge) remains generally excellent, along with the value of the Plus package, the laid-back atmosphere onboard, acceptable level of onboard activities, and decent entertainment and music. Many thoughts and details in this very lengthy review.

Background: My wife (42) and I (48) booked this cruise in August, right after returning from a lovely 10-night Canadian Maritime cruise (also aboard Caribbean Princess). This was our 13th cruise overall, and our fifth time on Princess (amazingly, all on Caribbean Princess, starting back in 2007 on our first cruise). We’ve also been on Celebrity (7x) and Viking (1x). This was our 10th Caribbean cruise overall; all prior cruises have reviews on CC.

Pre-Cruise: we flew down the night before from BWI to FLL on SWA and stayed at the reasonably priced and reasonably comfortable Hotel Dello in Dania Beach, a pre-cruise hotel we’ve used before. We were nervous given the storms, which highlights the importance of going down at least a day before (fortunately no issues). Taxi from FLL was set at $20. The next morning we walked to a Publix (about a mile) to get a case of Diet Coke for the cruise. We then had breakfast at Grampa’s Café—practically next door to hotel: very popular, and highly recommended.

Cabin Review

Balcony

We were in a balcony cabin on Caribe deck near aft elevators, which provides a larger balcony that we appreciate. Unlike the public rooms, the cabins are in need of a refresh, but our cabin stewardess did her best to clean what is a bit of a tired stateroom. We realize the ship is old, but one easy fix is adding back a lounge chair in the room. It would go a long way, as besides the desk chair, there is nowhere but the bed to sit. When getting ready in the evening, that can be less than comfortable for two people. We realize she’s getting up there in age, but if the Caribbean Princess is going to continue to stay in service for the foreseeable future, updating the tile and a few other things in the bathroom should be done relatively soon.

Port Reviews

Antigua

We had seen the sights on our last cruise, so we decided to just stay around St. John’s and tour their historic church and their (very small, but somewhat interesting) National Museum. Walking around St. John’s is a little sporty—it’s safe, but few sidewalks, and dodging taxis, etc. We bought some rhum Agricole at a duty-free shop and then returned to the ship. Would only recommend what we did if you haven’t been to Nelson’s Dockyard, Shirley Heights and you don’t want a beach day.

St. Kitts (Port Zante)

Against our better judgement, we decided to hike Mt. Liamuiga again, which we did 10 years ago and was very hard then. We again did it with Poinciana Tours, which is an excellent outfit, for $70/person. A group of five with two guides. They don’t provide much other than transportation in an open-air taxi to the trail (which does take a while to get there) and a few refreshments, but they’re nice guys. It’s 6 miles round trip and a 2700-foot elevation gain and lots of scrabbling on (wet) rocks near the top. We were sore climbing the ship’s stairs for a few days afterwards, both due to our middle-aged muscles and a few nicks and cuts from minor falls on the hike. Two young women (late 20s) and a slightly younger man (late 30s) fared better, but you need to be a good technical hiker and only the most fit will not be soaked to the point of literally dripping sweat. Our very fit guides were patient and did not rush us. (I also developed a rash from what the ship’s doctor said were some kind of bug bites—nothing too devastating, but a tad unpleasant, and needed some anti itch medicine). In short, it’s great, but know what you’re getting into.

St. Maarten

We did the “Spirit of St Maarten Luxury VIP Snorkel” booked through Princess for $130/person. While “Luxury” and “VIP” are definitely exaggerations, it was a nice boat, big enough to handle the large number of passengers (around 60). The crew did a good job and were interesting to talk to, but you were largely on your own, apart from getting rum punches. Included lunch was decent, if not amazing. Snorkeling sites were decent considering the weather.

St. Thomas

We took the public ferry from downtown Charlotte Amalie (about $13/person each way) to St. John and did some hikes in VI National Park (we stopped by the visitor’s center where a helpful volunteer had some good recommendations) before returning to the ship around 630pm to shower for Ultimate Balcony Dining. We really appreciated the longer port stay (10pm) on St. Thomas and wish more visits could be done this way, especially when the next port of call is nearby and does not require a long overnight journey. We understand the desire for Princess to open the casino and shops, but with so many sea days, having additional longer stay into the evening greatly expands the enjoyment.

Tortola

We had booked “Aristocats” to go to Norman Island which we know has great snorkeling, but sadly, they had to cancel a few days out because they could not get 8 people (the cat is rated to hold 40 and they take no more than 25). So, we just walked around a little and had a drink at the Pusser’s Pub, which like most things on BVI, is not cheap. It’s a very pleasant place, but we wish we’d had a better Plan B.

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