Canada & New England had its ups and downs: Caribbean Princess Cruise Review by JenRNandMOM

Caribbean Princess 3
Member Since 2011
1 Forum Post

Overall Member Rating

Canada & New England had its ups and downs

Sail Date: June 2011
Destination: Canada & New England
Embarkation: New York (Manhattan)
Our large family group of 34 traveled to Alaska via Princess in 2009 and we had so much fun we decided to take another cruise together. Because we live in such a hot area, we wanted to cruise in a cooler environment for our summer vacation, and boy did we get it.

We decided to arrive in New York City on Friday before our Monday departure. We had our four children with us, ages 11, 13, 15 and 19. NYC is a little rough for family travel. The expense for six people is overwhelming. The cab ride from LaGuardia to Times Square was about $50 (with tip) and we needed two cabs. Also difficult with children are the crowds. I could not relax because I was always worried that someone would wander off. My daughter and I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the Alexander McQueen exhibit, which I highly recommend, although we waited in line for 90 minutes and again, it was crowded. Perhaps the best thing we did in NYC was to buy tickets for the open top sight-seeing bus tour. The More guides were excellent and we saw so much of the city. The harbor tour is included and it was excellent.

We hired a private car service for the transfer from our hotel in Times Square to the Brooklyn port and the cost was $90 before tip, but we were able to get all six of us in one large SUV. We arrived at the port at about 2:30 and embarkation was very speedy and efficient. We neglected to print out boarding passes or luggage tags, yet we were still in our state rooms within 30 minutes.

Our room steward greeted us upon arrival and was very friendly and attentive throughout the cruise, (Ronaldo, Aloha Deck.) We had about 15 adjoining balcony rooms on the port side of the ship. Ronaldo opened the balconies between our state rooms so we could visit outdoors while we sailed. During high winds, the balcony doors had to be locked because of noise (they would bang open and shut), but they were reopened when seas were calm and conditions were less windy.

Unfortunately the weather in Canada was very foggy, cold and windy -- sometimes rainy and misty too. This was quite disappointing since we had no scenery while at sea -- just white fog. We had to skip our first port of call (Sydney) due to winds and high seas. I was not overly disappointed to miss Sydney because I was exhausted after NYC and my kids were thrilled to have an extra day at sea. The weather was so cold that it was very uncomfortable to be up on deck or on the balconies. There were movies under the stars and Princess offered blankets, but only the hardiest souls (and children) were brave enough to participate. In the end, I felt a bit trapped on the ship because the public areas were so crowded and it was too cold to be outside. One of the bar tenders said that kind of weather was very typical for the Canada segment of the cruise.

Charlottetown was our first port and it was not very exciting. The town itself is so-so. It was not very picturesque. We hired a cab to take us to Green Gables (my children had watched the Disney "Anne of Green Gables" with Colleen Dewhurst and Richard Farsnworth prior to the trip.) Green Gables was nice with very pretty gardens. But bear in mind that the home is the place that inspired the fictional story. The author did not live there, and neither did Anne since she is a fictional character. The Disney movie was not filmed there either. It was nice to visit Green Gables by cab since we avoided the large crowd that went with the Princess bus tour. We could come and go as we pleased. The cab was $50/hour and it accommodated all six of us. We hiked around the Green Gables property and then took the cab back to the port. On the way back we stopped at the Cows ice cream factory and had a cone which was delicious at $5/each. We also stopped at the Red Cliffs in the national park, which was fun for the kids because part of the movie was filmed there. Our driver also took us by a lighthouse and the beach. For a family of six, it was much cheaper to hire a cab for four hours and avoid the Princess tour.

Other port reviews are listed below.

Disembarkation was fine -- more chaotic than embarkation, but overall OK. We made the mistake of booking a flight home through Newark and the cab ride for six of us from the port to Newark was approx. $150 (we needed two cabs plus tip).

Notes regarding the ship: The ship itself is a little shabby. It is in need of a face lift in my opinion. There were stained deck chairs, dirty carpet, 80's looking decor done in forest green/peach. There is an unpleasant smell in the Horizon court, not sure what it is, but it never went away. The shows were very crowded and often standing room only. The comedians were both good, but could easily offend certain people. My kids really enjoyed the activities which included an egg drop, scavenger hunt, basketball games, movies, ship building contest, etc. (We had to pick up materials for the ship building and scavenger hunt in port.) There were a lot of games, but we thought it was strange that only a few could play and everybody else watched.

The service in the Palm dining room was good and bad. We had one excellent waitress and one poor waiter. The Horizon Court had a nice service in which a staff member would help you find a seat once you had your plate. Often they seated you with another party which was fine, since you wouldn't really want to do that on your own. Drink service in the Horizon Court/Caribe could be slow at times.

The food was average at best. Lobster and prawns were good. The poached seafood appetizer with avocado was one of the best items. Desserts were mediocre. The food on the Horizon Court was not as good. The breakfast pastry was stale with unidentifiable fruit filling and the pancakes were inedible. The waffles were sometimes good. The quality of the fruit varied widely -- sometimes very good, but usually not good at all. Overall the buffet felt very much like a Furrs Cafeteria or a lunch room in a nursing home.

If you have not cruised Alaska, I would recommend it far and above this itinerary. Less

Published 06/27/11

Cabin review: BAA632 Balcony

A632 - No complaints. I was concerned about noise, but I didn't notice anything. Right across from Laundry which was good.

Read All Balcony (BA) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

We stopped at Bar Harbor next and it was a major disappointment. There were two ships in port and at least 5,000 people in the small downtown area. It was like Disney World, only worse. It was obviously a very quaint, pretty town, but not with 5,000 people squeezed into the streets. We hired a cab to take us to the national park and the top of Cadillac Mountain. The weather was finally sunny, but very windy. The summit of Cadillac was extremely windy and we couldn't tolerate it for long. We had some very good clam chowder in one of the restaurants, but service was slow.

Next on the agenda was Boston. We left the ship early, about 8:30, because but we had to be back on board by 3:30, which is not much time in such a historic city. We took a guided walk on the Freedom Trail which was boring for the kids, but my husband and I enjoyed it. The Quincy Market was all food stalls as far as we could tell. In the afternoon we bought tickets for the trolley sight-seeing tour. My husband and boys left the trolley for a Fenway Park tour which they loved. My daughter and I opted to tour Harvard instead. We had a very short time there (about 20 minutes) and had to take a fast cab back to the port to catch the ship in time.

Read 495 Boston Reviews

Our next port was Halifax and we enjoyed that very much. Again we hired a cab for our family of six. The price was higher than Charlottetown, maybe $60/hour, but I'm not sure. Our driver gave us a nice tour of Halifax and then we went to Peggy's Cove. Again, it was nice to avoid the large crowds on the bus tour. Peggy's Cove was gorgeous. My kids loved climbing on the rocks. With young boys you would have to keep a close eye on them because tourists have been washed out to sea while climbing on the rocks. It was cold, cloudy and windy. On the way back we stopped at the cemetery to see the Titanic graves which were quite moving. We also stopped at the Citadel.

Read 570 Halifax Reviews

The last port was Newport, RI, and it was my favorite. Newport is gorgeous, and was the closest to a quaint New England town on the whole cruise. The lines for the tenders were very long, I think it took about an hour between the time we started waiting until we touched land, maybe more. We got a free map of the town and walked all the way through to the beach by the cliff walk. There is a really cool tower structure in the middle of town, "The Newport Tower" which was built by unknown persons, possibly Vikings according to the docent. The kids loved building sand castles on the beach. We walked along the cliff and toured The Breakers -- summer home/mansion of the Vanderbilts ($20 each for adults, $5 each for childdren.) The audio tour was outstanding and we all enjoyed the Breakers very much, even my husband who doesn't like that kind of thing. We had to catch a city bus back to port ($2/each with a bus stop on the street behind The Breakers). We made it to the ship on the last tender.

Read 171 Newport Reviews

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