We have sailed on many Princess ships, and loved the itinerary that this cruise had to offer, visiting Princess Cays, St. Martin, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Antigua, and Saint Maarten. This cruise was unique in that they are implementing their ... Read More
We have sailed on many Princess ships, and loved the itinerary that this cruise had to offer, visiting Princess Cays, St. Martin, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Antigua, and Saint Maarten. This cruise was unique in that they are implementing their Medallion program, which is the way of the future. It is still not fully operational, and I must say that having a majority of older passengers on this cruise was both a challenge for the passengers and the ship staff.
The Medallion provides you with medallion that works like a car fob to open your cabin. As you approach your stateroom, a screen, located where the mail holder was previously, shows your photo, welcomes you, and states that it is unlocking your door. When in the cabin, your names are listed on the screen, with door locked, showing who is actually in the room. A little creepy, but nice not to have to search for your card.
The Medallion is part of a whole new Wi Fi experience that offers numerous apps to provide different services and entertainment. We didn't really use them, since I rather spend my time onboard off my phone or tablet. We did think it rather Big Brother that the staff knows exactly where you are at any time.
We were in a mini-suite, which was great. Our cabin was immaculate and well maintained although the balcony could use a little sprucing up. Our room steward was efficient. Only regret is that he didn't provide us with a ship's log at the end of the cruise, which we had requested at the main desk.
The strangest thing that did happen on the trip was at the Crown Grill. Service was wonderful, and the food was amazing. Had the black and blue onion soup and a filet. The meal was very filling, and I only ate about 1/2 of my steak, as my husband did, also. I was looking forward to eating the rest of it for breakfast the next morning, as I love a cold filet leftover for breakfast. When the server tried to take my plate after I said I was done, I stopped him to say I wanted to take my leftover, he stated that they are not allowed to let us take our leftovers. What?!? I argued with them, but they said the new policy was to protect us from illness. Ridiculous!!! They allow us to take items from the buffet or order room service, but when you pay for a steak you can't have it?? Very disappointing.
As an Elite level passenger, we receive complimentary laundry, which used to also provide dry cleaning. The laundry if very appreciated, but was disappointed to find that the dry cleaning is no longer offered. With two formal nights, it's easy to need the service for a man's suit that might become soiled the first night.
Probally our favorite spot on the ship was the Crooners Bar. The staff there, especially Jacky and Emil provided a friendly and fun place to gather before dinner. The location is central to all the activities, so you can people watch and see all of the activities.
We also spent, probably too much, time in the casino where the dealers almost make it fun to lose, but even more fun when winning. The casino host provided us with some great room perks, such as chocolate covered strawberries and champagne. Really enjoyed have the strawberries with mimosas, we made, for breakfast. Ymmm.
Onboard we saw a few shows and especially enjoyed the commedians. Simon Cotter was very funny, but John Bressler was fantastic. He was a amazing pianist besides being a comedian, and his finale of McCarther Park with the orchestra was exciting.
Now for a short review of the cruise ports:
On Princess Cays, we didn't do much but explore and enjoy a swim in the water, but that was very relaxing for our first day.
In St. Thomas, we took a taxi to Hidden Harbour, one of our favorite locations to visit. It is a very laid back resort with a beautiful and calm cove for swimming. The restaurant had great pizza and, of course, cocktails.
Next, was St. Kitts where we took the Scenic Railway tour around the island. It was fun and interesting, and the guide provided us with a lot of history and perspective of life on their island.
When we arrived in St. Lucia, we decided to take an easy day and just shopped in the local area. We did take a ferry to town, but it just drops you off at a "straw market" type of area.
Next we went to Antigua, which we loved. We took the ship's excursion to Nelson's boatyard and a couple of old fort locations. The views were breathtaking, and our tour guide was excellent. I think we might be back for a stay on that island, but hesitate with the driving on the left side of the road. LOL
Our final island was Saint Maarten/St. Martin. We have been escaping to St. Martin for the last 20 years, but hurricane Irma has prevented us from returning, yet. We rented a car to tour our beloved island to see our favorite spots and see how they are recovering. The area around the cruise port shows very little evidence of the damage, but other areas, especially the French side are slow to recover. We used to stay at Alamanda Resort in Orient Village, which although still standing doesn't show any sign of being repaired. One beach bar has returned, but the rest of the beach is barren, except for a small bar, Perch Lite, down by the destroyed Club O area.
The food on the cruise was very good, but I was spoiled last cruise when we had booked the Club Class. We will definitely book it next time. The buffet was good and better serviced each cruise, but I'm not a buffet fan, so didn't go there often. Except for the one day with the Pub Lunch, lunch was not available in the restaurants, so you could pick the buffet or the pizza and burger spots by the pool. We did try the Seafood Steamers, which is an upcharge, but found it strange. In the rather large restaurant area, only one other table was occupied. Doesn't seem very popular. The food was good, but the menu is limited. Loved the fried shrimp, but don't see the value justified the upcharge.
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our cruise. As we experienced last winter on the Royal Princess, the majority of the passengers were elderly and many were sailing back to back cruises, some even three sailings. As one gentleman told us last February, he was going to book a month in Florida during the winter, but found that he could book cruises for a month for less, and all of his meals, laundry, maid service, and entertainment was included. A great value for your money. Read Less