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2,492 Princess Eastern Caribbean Cruise Reviews

Our recent cruise on the Golden Princess was thoroughly enjoyable; however, there were some noticeable problems with the ship. Although the ship is quite large - carrying 2600 passengers - the design is quite good and one never feels lost ... Read More
Our recent cruise on the Golden Princess was thoroughly enjoyable; however, there were some noticeable problems with the ship. Although the ship is quite large - carrying 2600 passengers - the design is quite good and one never feels lost on the ship, despite its large scale. There are many small lounges and cozy corners tucked away where one can get some privacy. On our cruise, which took place Easter week, the ship was filled to capacity and the crowding was quite noticeable on several occasions. The crowding problem began with embarkation in Ft. Lauderdale. This was a real cattle call from the time we stepped off the airplane. The rather surly Princess "hostesses" pointed us to an area and told us we had to wait for the buses. Not much of a welcome. We were then herded on the buses for the short ride to the terminal. A huge line was already in place just to enter the terminal. Inside, things were poorly organized and an hour and a half later, we finally boarded. Services very disappointing at this end, especially when contrasted with out Princess sailings. Our cabin, with its balcony, was lovely. Plenty of closet space and privacy on the balcony. Our cabin steward was cheerful and helpful throughout the week. The Golden Princess is to be commended for its service and many welcoming faces. We selected Personal Choice dining and, despite the best efforts of the maitre d', found ourselves waiting for a table or not given the sort of table which we requested. If you enjoy meeting new people for dinner conversation, don't expect to always be seated at a large table with Personal Choice. The dining room staff was mostly competent, although a little rough around the edges. The food was more than adequate, with strengths in presentation, appetizers and desserts. Princess engages in shameless wine promoting, but has an uninteresting wine list and servers who are not well-versed in wine. The pool areas and the buffet area are all appealing and well-designed. The Conservatory is especially pretty, with its retractable roof. The atrium area is also attractive; the many bars and lounges of the Promenade deck comfortable. There is plenty to do on the cruise - expect all the traditional entertainments, games and activities. The Skywalker Lounge is accessed by an escalator, but the decor is early Star Trek. The architectural interest is from the outside only. The crowds on the ship were particularly evident at the Immigration check, which was needlessly time-consuming and poorly handled. The worst aspect of the crowding was the hoarding of deck chairs by people who would leave chairs unattended for hours, "reserved" by a towel or a book. Some people actually reserved chairs for both sun and shade, leaving politer passengers in the predicament of wandering for hours, looking for a vacant chair. The staff does nothing to prevent this, aside from placing signs which are ignored. Golden Princess has some relatively tacky aspects - there is evidence of cheesiness with the ubiquitous selling of CDs, add-ons for gym classes, the "wine tastings," paper-packaged toiletries, in addition to the usual photograph-taking and atrium bazaars. Princess should concentrate on the nice touches which usually characterize their cruises. All in all, however, it was a lovely cruise, despite the crowding and bad behavior of some passengers. The Princess Cay is absolutely delightful - a pristine beach which is beautiful - could have used more time on it. Read Less
Sail Date April 2003
This was our first cruise on Princess Cruise Lines. After much researching on the internet, we decided on the Grand Princess. We had previously sailed on Royal Caribbean: Sovereign of the Seas, Monarch of the Seas, and the Enchantment of ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Princess Cruise Lines. After much researching on the internet, we decided on the Grand Princess. We had previously sailed on Royal Caribbean: Sovereign of the Seas, Monarch of the Seas, and the Enchantment of the Seas. We decided on a larger ship and even went all out and booked our first balcony room. When we arrived at the Princess terminal in Fort Lauderdale there was a long line of passengers waiting to get into the terminal. After a few minutes, the line moved quickly, but then we had to line up again according to the deck we were staying on. The Princess staff seemed a little confused and it took quite some time to get on the ship even after we filled out all the required information on-line. When we entered the ship, we were very impressed that many crew members were situated all over the ship (even on each deck at the elevators) to greet and help the new passengers. The crew was very friendly and made us feel welcome. We went on our own tour of the beautiful Grand Princess. This is a gorgeous ship, very elegant with its rich wood tones. The artwork all over the ship is lovely and creates the elegant atmosphere. We were able to go to our room on the Caribe Deck within an hour of entering the ship. The room steward, Jay, was there within minutes explaining his hours and how he was there to please. We requested robes and filled out the form to request fruit in our room each day. Jay had our robes to our room within minutes. The stateroom was larger than those on RC. We had a refrigerator and a sitting area. Princess allows you to preorder liquor for your room . We also brought wine onboard and this really saved on our bar bill. Each room has a card which displays a diagram of the ship and is very helpful to keep in your pocket. We went to the dining room for our first lunch onboard. The food and service was wonderful. We originally arranged to have second seating dinner, but after the first night we switched to personal choice dining. We enjoyed eating when we wanted and with whom we wanted to. Many nights we chose to eat at a table for two. The service was outstanding and the food was much better than RC. Many seafood entrees were offered and the desserts were delicious. Princess is definitely much better than RC in the area of dining. The Horizon Court Buffet was open 24 hours a day with a large variety of food options. The only negative about the Horizon Court was the confusing arrangement of stations, but after the first day most passengers seemed to know where they were going. The entertainment was excellent, much better than RC. Princess had shows going on simultaneously, you just had to choose which one(s) to attend. The comedian Don Friesen was hysterical and he did two very different shows during the week. The Princess dancers and singers were wonderful and their production shows were very professional. All lounges and bars had continuous entertainment, all of which was very good. We went to one comedy show which was not the same quality of the others. We should have left because there were many other better entertainment options. The champagne waterfall in the atrium on formal night was quite an impressive sight! Compared to RC, Princess is more low-key, yet very elegant. The cruise director, Neil Roberts, and his staff did an excellent job of keeping the entertainment going without interrupting passengers with continuous announcements. This itinerary was great because it gave passengers two days to relax a sea before stopping at St. Thomas. We went to Sapphire Beach (prettier than Magen's Bay) on St. Thomas and it was beautiful. From the beach you look directly across at the island of St. John. Sapphire Beach is equipped for visitors with lounges and equipment. That afternoon we went jewelry shopping in town. Our next port was St. Maarten and we went to Dawn Beach. Dawn Beach was also lovely and set up to make visitors comfortable with lounges, etc. Across the water from Dawn Beach you can see the island of St. Bart. This beach was just beautiful! Our last port was Princess Cays. We only stayed for a few hours because it was very crowded and the beach was very rocky. Water shoes are really necessary at Princess Cays. We enjoyed going back to an almost empty ship and having the pool area to ourselves. The dining room and the Horizon Court was still open for lunch. The Grand Princess is certainly an elegant ship that is designed so you don't feel like you're on a large ship. Many of the rooms are compartmentalized to create a smaller ship atmosphere. The twinkling stars on the ceilings in the dining rooms are beautiful. The elevators are equipped with voice announcements; they tell passengers which deck they're on. Rarely, did we wait more than a minute for an elevator. The air conditioning worked great on the Grand Princess. We have been on RC Enchantment of the Seas where we were so uncomfortable because the air conditioning wasn't cool. The carpets on the decks are color coded to make it easy for you to get to your stateroom. The pool areas are gorgeous with elaborate tile work all around. The Princess Theater and the Vista Lounge are both lovely; there's hardly a bad seat in either one. All in all, the Grand Princess is truly a grand and elegant ship with many entertainment options Read Less
Sail Date August 2003
This was our 7th cruise with Princess and found they finally got the Personal Choice Dining to really work very well. One must make a reservation by phone rather than at the desk outside the Dining Room. Consequently there were no lines in ... Read More
This was our 7th cruise with Princess and found they finally got the Personal Choice Dining to really work very well. One must make a reservation by phone rather than at the desk outside the Dining Room. Consequently there were no lines in front of the dining room and a table for two, if desired, was never a problem. The food arrived hot and very good. The Sterling Steakhouse was excellent. If we did not want to eat in the Dining room we tried the Capri Cafe in back of the Lido cafe. This was set with table clothes each evening, with the same menu as the Dining room. Several evenings lobster was served with no limits, along with shrimp and crab. We sat in the Capri each morning for breakfast after making our selections in the Lido cage. It was never crowded. Same with lunch. Since there were so many children on board, Princess had groups of children for every 3 years of age. Our Granddaughter is 9 and she loved it. They treated the children very well with many activities appropriate for each group. The ship was very clean. We found the halls and elevator plazas very small which was a surprise with a ship of this size. The pools were very crowded but they had 2 adult pools, including a pool outside the spa which was great. Our main disappointment was with the entertainment. The two production shows were, at best, just loud. The other evenings were so so, with the exception of the comedians who were very good. We would recommend this ship. Read Less
Sail Date August 2003
Grand Princess September 28 - October 5, 2003 Eastern Caribbean Golden Princess November 30 - December 7, 2002 Eastern Caribbean Not welcome back but welcome home! This our third cruise with Princess and second time around on the Grand. ... Read More
Grand Princess September 28 - October 5, 2003 Eastern Caribbean Golden Princess November 30 - December 7, 2002 Eastern Caribbean Not welcome back but welcome home! This our third cruise with Princess and second time around on the Grand. Second time on the Eastern Caribbean itinerary as we enjoyed this itinerary last December on the Golden Princess. Aesthetically the difference between the two ships is just a bit of wear and tear on the inside of Grand, but when it comes to service there is a world of difference! From the moment we boarded the Grand it was smiles and welcome aboard. The Golden a lot of hurry up and wait to even get aboard, just because the photographers weren't ready to take the welcome aboard photo. Folks started getting irritated with that and once they realized they couldn't get aboard because of that they went around the photographers and boarded. The Grand once again slick and really negligible waiting with welcome back and let us show you to your stateroom. Golden's attitude was, there's the elevators which I didn't really notice until we returned to the Grand. All of our cruises have been on the Caribe deck with balcony. First cruise the stateroom was near the bow, the second we were in the middle of the ship and this last cruise we were near the aft. Of those we prefer aft. You can feel the rocking of the ship more. This last cruise also had the roughest water. We loved it as did most of the people we spoke too. We had preordered liquor to be delivered to our stateroom on both ships. The Golden only half of our order was delivered and it took two days to get it worked out with a snippy purser who finally just credited back our purchase. The Grand everything was delivered to our stateroom on time without incident. Both cruises we booked traditional late seating and got it on the Grand. The Golden however booked us into Personal Choice dining despite what our cruise documents stated. Previous reviewers have mentioned to check your cruise card on embarkation which I do. Thank you for that tip cause on the Golden it was wrong. After an hour of running up and down stairs talking to three different people I was told to take my cruise documents to dinner with us and they would take care of the situation. To their credit they did. The first night we were seated at one table and then moved to another the rest of the week. I understand that stuff happens but spending the first 2 hours on board trying to fix their mistakes running up and down several flights of stairs because the elevators were being saved for embarkation passengers was starting to bug me and make me wonder if I got on the wrong ship. On the Grand everything was just taken care of with my only concern being which bar I was going to visit to get my first margarita. I also bought the coke card for $22.50. It used to be $17.50. For us it was still a good buy as I filled the souvenir coke thermos with tonic water to take back to our room and have vodka or gin tonics on the balcony at night. Much cheaper than lugging all that on board and trying to hide it in our luggage! The only unfortunate thing about the Coke card is that it does not apply to room service. Preordering Vodka or Gin through Princess is $22 dollars for a liter of Stoly, Tangueray or Bombay. It lasts the week (as long as you get your order) and we are above average drinkers. The first two days on the eastern itinerary are sea days. Two days of unwinding and really getting the feeling of the ocean and really enjoying being away from work, complete relaxation. Room service was night and day on the Golden and the Grand. Almost every day we ordered breakfast room service and 2-3 days of the week an afternoon room service. The menu is limited but you can always get a cheeseburger with fries and order what you like for breakfast. Both ships we wrote in what we wanted for breakfast, 2 orders of scrambled eggs and bacon with coffee and juice. Of course the Grand staff always delivered on time and usually early with no mistakes. The Golden we would get 1 of our orders and not the other one so we just shared the breakfast order and didn't complain to anyone. I drink regular coffee and my husband decaf. Usually my husband didn't get his decaf. However, I did order a cheeseburger with fries one afternoon on the Golden. I asked if I could have some tarter sauce with my French fries. The order guy sharply said to me "this isn't the dining room, if you want tarter sauce you will have to go there." Nice! I had to test it on the Grand so I ordered the same thing just to see what would happen. The order guy said "I'm sorry ma'am, tarter sauce is not available through room service, may I get you something else?" it makes me wonder if we somehow we got caught up in the Bermuda triangle on our Golden cruise. Same company, same class of ship but unbelievable nasty attitude! Was it the impending merger with Carnival? Was it just before a crew change? Was the ship still so new it hadn't worked out the "kinks" yet? I reread my travel diary and those first three days on the Golden were such a problem. I forgot I wrote the Golden cruise may be our last cruise ever. Had the British pound not been kicking the dollars butt it may very well have been. Cruising is still a great value and the Grand sailing made it too enticing to pass up. On our Grand sailings the air conditioning was cold. We had to turn it down. The Golden sailing had serious air conditioning problems. Although our cabin neighbors had more problems with the air conditioning that we did. At least our room got a bit cool while our neighbors next door didn't have theirs working at all. Food is basically the same on both ships. The alternative dining restaurant Sabatini's was $15 per person on the Golden Princess and was fabulous. The price has been upped to $20 and was reflected on Grand Princess. As good as Sabatini's is we chose not to go on the Grand this time because of the price increase. Apparently, we weren't the only ones. Sabatini's was mostly empty the first 3 nights on board. Our table mates couldn't quit complaining about how bad the coffee was. One of our tablemates even said they wouldn't sail Princess again based on the coffee. These are the same tablemates who won enough in the casino to pay for their cruise! Also, loved the entire cruise but the coffee was the killjoy for them. Our other tablemates also hated the coffee but brought their own coffee maker and coffee. Could have made a couple of bucks from "other" tablemates! On the Golden we had fun tablemates as well. However, we were a bit ignored by the waiter and jr. waiter. Our tablemates on the Golden would get a bottle of wine with dinner and my husband and I ordered drinks or wine in a glass. We weren't asked if we would like another. Often we would have to ask and then it wasn't brought until the end of dinner. Service was a bit disappointing for us except for the last night but our tablemates were well taken care of in the dining room. The Grand sailing the wait staff treated us so well. The jr. waiter took such good care of my husband that the waiter often didn't notice and tried to take his drink order again several times. Amazing service. One of our tablemates had a couple of food allergies. She took our head waiter aside the first night and explained this too him. He brought the next nights menu each night so she could pre order the next day how she wanted her food. No problems they accommodated all her needs. The Horizon Court had good food on both sailings. As a matter of fact the Golden sailing had an amazing sushi bar. I don't like sushi but it sure looked good. The presentation was beautiful and looked so appetizing. The Golden sailing had more passengers and it was painfully obvious in the Horizon court. I had been shoved into other people more than once over stupid things like pasta or roast beef. You would have thought the Horizon court made an announcement saying they had run out of food by the way those passengers acted. Even when we went to the dining room for lunch the passengers were crabby. We started asking for a table for two. The Horizon court on the Grand had some issues too. Folks seem to know that when they board that's where they go and the lines on the first day went outside. We decided to go to the hamburger bar instead of wait in line. Of course the dining room is also serving lunch however we forgot. While waiting to get our burgers we saw the captain. First of 3 times that sailing. Sail away on the Golden was much more eventful than on the Grand. Not that we minded as we have our balcony to enjoy sailing out of Fort Lauderdale. Sailing from St. Martin and St. Thomas was a blast. More ships in port in late fall early winter than in September. On our December sailing it was cruise ship row in St. Martin. The Golden was in, opposite her on the other side of the dock was Radiance of the Seas, behind the Golden was Explorer of the Seas, alongside the Explorer as Costa ship and the Amsterdam. Another Costa ship was in port as well as a Carnival ship tendering. I know those Voyager class ships from RCCL are bigger than the Grand glass from Princess but you couldn't see the Explorer behind the Golden looking straight on. It was amazing walking between all those beautiful ships. I'm sure the Radiance passengers as well as us Golden passengers were happy we were "parked" in first. Imagine walking the length of the Golden and half the length of the Explorer to get back on your ship! As fun as it was having all those ships in port you realize it's not so fun cause of all the people in port. We did get lucky. On St. Martin we rented a car to drive around the island. We didn't get off until nearly noon. We still got a car for $50 from Hertz. Quickest car rental you will ever do. As soon as you get off the ship you will see a small shopping area for duty free merchandise. Go to the right of that and there are at least 5 car rental agencies bidding for your business. We got a new car with great air conditioning for the day. We were so excited to try some of the food in Grand Case. What I didn't know was the restaurants close in the middle of the day on the French side. There was one restaurant open that was doing an outdoor barbecue. The locals were so friendly and recommended the Caribe beer. Great food too. From there it was on to Orient beach. Traffic was pretty heavy that day but it was ok cause it was our first time there and we enjoyed looking at the decorated homes. It was the first week of December and many homes were decorated with lights, santa's, reindeer and snowman. It almost looked out of place because the island was so green. Orient beach was nice. Not a lot of people there. Yes it is the nude beach but few were. That time of year the water is cooler. Not quite the warm bath water it is in September. It's not the cleanest beach we have been too, nor the whitest sand but it is relaxing. The first time around we didn't stay long but this last September we spent the day. The waves were pretty big the second time around and a bit more ocean debris on the beach from Isabel but we were the only ones there. It felt like our own private beach. Swimming in the waves was incredible! I would turn around and wave at my husband on the beach under his umbrella and get knocked over by a large wave I didn't see. The umbrella and 2 chairs with a drink table is a $10 rental for the day. Drinks were reasonable too and quite good. The Grand Princess being the only ship in port in St. Martin this last September-October we got a car rental for $30 bucks for the day. We got off the ship much earlier this time too. It was a Suzuki sidekick type. Not as nice a vehicle nor did the air conditioning work very well however since the top was off we really didn't need it. That rental was from Reynolds car rentals. If a nice vehicle is important to you then don't use them. Reynolds was courteous and turned out to be reputable it's just that the vehicles aren't as nice and some look a bit beat up. Also the car they have sitting there doesn't mean it's going to be the one you get. As much as I like the open top there is no place to store your belongings you have to take them with you to the beach. Driving around St. Martin was a lot faster the second time around. Not nearly the traffic as the last time but more goats to look out for. The island wasn't as green either. Leaving St. Martin on the Golden was loud and rowdy. Sat in the aft hot tub as we inched past the Explorer of the Seas. Everyone on the Golden was yelling and waving at the Explorer and vice versa. We were so close to them. Also the two ships played those 4 notes from Close Encounters of the Third Kind as the Golden passed. I'm not sure who blew there horn first but both ships played 2 notes and got everyone on both ships more excited. It was so cool! Plus it was dark and both ships lit up just looked great. On the Grand we just quietly sailed into the night. The Golden sailing we went to St. Martin first and the Grand we went second after St. Thomas. St. Thomas is beautiful. Lots of ships in port on the Golden sailing but only the Zuiderdam on this last sailing. At the port the Grand had pulled straight in, and the Zuiderdam had backed in behind the Grand. The suites on the back of that ship look awesome and there are many. Plus the balcony sizes are huge. The first time we were in St. Thomas we took the Coral World and Island excursion through Princess. The tour of the island is nice but I didn't think Coral World was all that great. Maybe it's because we've done Stingray City in Grand Cayman and prefer our sea life in their natural habitat rather than behind glass. Plus it's just not that large of an exhibit. Sail away on the Grand was nice, the captain actually came back to watch the Zuiderdam leave and we spoke with him. He was there only a few minutes as it was nearly time for the Grand to leave as well so he went back to the bridge for sail away. He talked about the itinerary deviation that the Grand had to do previously regarding the Grand having to do the Western Caribbean sailing 2 weeks in a row due to hurricane Isabel. He said they make those decisions 3-4 days ahead of time because of dock space. Both were fun cruises however we started with the Grand and this last cruise was quite Grand despite the obvious wear and tear on the ship. One was a water pipe started leaking outside our cabin door and a piper pipe started leaking over our dinner table so all of us were moved to a different table the last night of our cruise. It was near the windows so it was actually better than we had! Friendly nice staff on the Grand. Golden a bit snooty, don't quite get why. Overall it was enjoyable and as I mentioned at the beginning it was welcome home on the Grand for us. We are going to sail again with Princess and have our pre-booking! We will try another line just to compare. As much as we loved welcome home we also enjoy the "first time excitement" you get when you first board. One more tip! If you plan on seeing a movie in the Princess theater it's freaking cold in there! As you have probably read from other reviews. Take a hot drink in with you or two! It really helps keep your hands warm. It's weird when you order especially when it's 80+ degrees outside but that theater is sub zero! A nice hot cocoa with peppermint schnapps works!:) Read Less
Sail Date September 2003
We just returned from sailing on the Golden Princess to the Eastern Carribean. Having sailed on Carnival 4 times, we just wanted to try something different. The reason we chose Princess was the pricing that was available for a stateroom ... Read More
We just returned from sailing on the Golden Princess to the Eastern Carribean. Having sailed on Carnival 4 times, we just wanted to try something different. The reason we chose Princess was the pricing that was available for a stateroom with a balcony. Once you have sailed with a balcony, you can never go back to a plain cabin. Everything about this ship was perfect. The embarkation process was terrific. We arrived at the pier at 11:45 a.m. and were walking in to our stateroom at 12:15. Last October we sailed on Carnival Victory and stood in line for almost 3 hours before finally getting to our stateroom. Princess has this down to an art. The ship is beautiful and kept in great shape. The staff aboard were great. "Yes sir" and "no sir" were always used. They really made you feel special. We like the alternative dining choices, because we usually don't want to take the time to dress up for dinner. Usually the buffet style food is just o.k. However, Princess had great food on their buffet every day. Really great selection and everything actually tasted like real food. Even their room service menu was much better than Carnival. (I'm not really bashing Carnival, but that is my only comparison.) The passengers on board were, for the most part, older. This kept the partying to a minimum and made the entire experience very enjoyable. This may not appeal to some younger people who want to party and party, but for us this was perfect. I'm not saying that we don't have fun, but we are past the all night partying years. We are in our early 50's. We really liked the dome covered pool. It is air conditioned and a great break when you just want to stay out of the sun, wind and heat, but still want to swim or sit in a hot tub. While in port they roll the dome back, which makes it nice. Disembarkation, which can be a nightmare, went very smooth as well. We were off the ship and on our way to the airport by 9:45 a.m. The later your flight is, the further down the disembarkation list you are. Just sitting around waiting to get off the ship is terrible, because you are forced to vacate your cabin by 8:30 a.m so that they can prepare it for the next cruise. A little hint: Try to get a flight out around 1:00 p.m. This will get you off the ship in reasonable time. Princess is a little more expensive than some cruise lines, but as the saying goes "you get what you pay for." Very true in this case. We were soooo pleased that we WILL sail Princess again soon. Hope your cruise was as good as ours was. Read Less
Sail Date November 2003
This was our first cruise. We were celebrating our 25th anniversary and we booked a mini suite. Two weeks before sailing we were upgraded 5 levels to a full suite. It even had a name, "the Venice suite". We boarded in Ft. ... Read More
This was our first cruise. We were celebrating our 25th anniversary and we booked a mini suite. Two weeks before sailing we were upgraded 5 levels to a full suite. It even had a name, "the Venice suite". We boarded in Ft. Lauderdale on Nov. 8th in the rain. We had taken a shuttle from the Best Western Marina and when we got to Port Everglades at about 11:20 there were lots of people there. We got in line thinking this will take forever but in reality it went very fast. We got in line according to our deck name and because we had done check in online we got to go in the express line. We got our room and credit card then went through security and walked the gangway to the ship by 12:00. They took our picture and we walked on the ship. Our mouths dropped as we came into the atrium area because it was so beautiful. We didn't have much time to look because we were whisked to the elevators to go to our room. We were on the Emerald Deck at the very back of the ship. Our door was open and you walk in on marble floors and a wet bar to our left. Ahead was the living room with a couch and table and chair. Across was a big bed and 2 nightstands. To the right was a double size balcony with 2 lounge chairs, 2 chairs and 2 tables. It was huge. The bathroom was fabulous with all marble tile and a jacuzzi bathtub and a separate glass enclosed shower. In the next room was a sink and counter and toilet all in marble again. This was very beautiful. Outside of the bathroom was a walk-in closet and drawers. Lots of space. Also a writing desk and chair area. We then decided to go have lunch and look around. Went to the Horizon Court buffet and had a great lunch and bought the coke card for $22.00 including the container. Toured the ship and were very impressed with its beauty. Came back to our room and were pleasantly surprised to find wine, red roses and strawberries from our family and a bouquet of flowers from the ship. We were overwhelmed. We went to meet our fellow cruise critics as planned but only 2 couples showed up. They were from Maine and very nice. We ended up having dinner with them every night but two. I'm going to have to try to make this shorter. The Donatello dining room was great. The food got better every night. Our waiters were Allan and Lazarro who were perfect at what they did. We had rack of lamb, lobster, prime rib and fabulous desserts. We did try the Desert Rose one night and I wasn't that impressed. The service wasn't that good nor the food. We heard they were changing this to a steakhouse. We went to a show almost every night and they were great. Lights, camera, action was wonderful and the juggling show and comedy show. They also had a marriage game show that was very funny and karaoke night. We went dancing in the Skywalker lounge that was fun. We tried most of the pools and loved them. People do save deck chairs though and that was a problem. We were supposed to be in St. Maarten on tuesday but it rained so much we were unable to go so we went to St.Thomas early and it poured there for two days. We did go ashore to do a little shopping but the weather was miserable. Half our cruise had rain but we made the best of it. Friday we were in Princess Cays and it was sunny and blue water. We were there about 5 hours and I could of spent many more. Overall, we had a great time and I would highly recommend the Golden Princess to anyone. They were right about the logons "the big ship with the small ship feel". There were 2700 passengers but it was never crowded. We ran into the same people all the time. I cannot wait to begin planning our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2003
Golden Princess Eastern Caribbean 11-22-03 My wife and I had a great time aboard the Golden and were grateful for all the information we found on the Cruise Critics boards. I'm not going to cover every detail here but just comment ... Read More
Golden Princess Eastern Caribbean 11-22-03 My wife and I had a great time aboard the Golden and were grateful for all the information we found on the Cruise Critics boards. I'm not going to cover every detail here but just comment on the things that are typically discussed on these boards. Embarkation -We arrived at the Pier Saturday at around 11. There was a fairly long line outside but once the doors opened, around 11:40, people scattered to their respective check-in lines (by Deck) and we were on in about 10-15 minutes. There was Express Lines for some decks (not ours, Plaza) but at this time it didn't really matter. Horizon Court - Food here was good, no complaints from us. However, between the great pizza by the pool and 3 days in ports we didn't eat a lot here, mostly just breakfast. Most breakfast items were as good as in the dining room. Free ice cream served around 3-4 o'clock each day. Pizza - it's great, it's fresh out of the oven. They have regular, pepperoni and a daily special. Coffee - The coffee at the Horizon court tastes like instant. Not too bad unless you just had a cup from the Lobby Bar on Deck 5. The Lobby Bar makes brewed coffee and is open around 6:30-7am each day. For early risers, like me, if you wander out there at 6-6:30 while they're setting up for the day they'll get you a cup. I had several cups there each morning. Coffee in the dining rooms also tasted good, probably brewed. The dining room breakfast on the last day served the instant coffee, or so I thought. Ice tea - I thought the ice tea was fine, very drinkable. Add your own lemon and sweetener. Dining room - we had Personal Choice. Almost always asked for a table for 2 and only had to wait once (about ½ hour). This was fine since, like most nights, we weren't quite ready to eat again anyway. We usually ate at around 6:30 so we could see the early shows but weren't always quite hungry yet. I thought there were a significant difference in service, on this cruise, between the Bernini dining room and the Donatello (both personal choice). In Bernini, the Maitre D' was a little huffy, the service seemed less experienced, less friendly and the meal not very well paced (too fast). After the first 2 nights in Bernini, we ate in Donatello. I think others noticed as well since the lines to Donatello were always longer (but moved along). Food was very good at both. Sabatinis and Desert Rose - We never ate at either. I will say that this was a full cruise and Desert Rose was always pretty empty. Also it seemed a bit strange that traffic flow on that deck went through the Desert Rose. They had a Country/Folk singer in there mostly singing to 2 or 3 people. He sounded pretty good by the way. Entertainment - The production shows were very good, among the best we've seen. The comedians (2, one a ventriloquist) were pretty good too. There were combos in the lounges, we didn't spend much time there so can't comment. There was a Piano bar off the atrium. The piano player was good, funny and people had a good time there singing along. Some nights it was quite crowded. Cabin - we had an oceanview on Plaza deck (5). The room was fine. The bathroom didn't seem too small to me. Lots of room for storage, we liked the open closet. There also was a refrigerator. Not a mini-bar full of items, but empty, so plenty of room for whatever. We've now been on 6 cruises. On 3 of the cruises we had 2 kids in the room with us. Needless to say it seemed roomy. You can ask your cabin steward for robes and he'll gladly oblige. I liked the Plaza deck. A short stroll to the Atrium and Lobby Bar for morning coffee and just 1 or 2 decks below the rest of the action. The Ship - We thought the ship was great. Like others commented, lots of quiet areas. You'd never get the feeling there were over 2200 passengers. We liked the pool area in the aft (rear) of the ship. There were several tiered decks looking over it. Each a little different. One deck had a bar and an outside eating area off the Horizon court. An upper one had lounge chairs. And the uppermost had a couple hot tubs and a bar. From all these you could look down over the aft pool and the wake of the ship. Also, not very crowded. At the main pool, it could be crowded and you'd have to hunt for a lounge chair. This was not a big deal to us as there were plenty of other pools and places to lounge. Emails - you can tell people to email you at golden princess@princesscruises.com with your name and cabin number in the subject. They'll print the email and deliver to your cabin. We received several. It's an unadvertised but nice, free service. Budget tips: - 1.We arrived the day before. Booked a room on Priceline at the Doubletree Oceantfront ($50). Nice hotel, not super deluxe, but a great location. On the beach, lots of bars, restaurants, shops, right along the ocean that you can walk to. We'd stay there again for sure. No shuttle from the airport but we took the public bus (take the 1 from the airport, switch to the 40) runs $2 each. WARNING - this is for cheapskates only. Imagine taking the public bus from the airport, getting off in the middle of town (with cruise luggage, switching to another bus, etc. There's a stop about a block and a half from the Doubletree, but...) . I imagined onlooker's thinking "look at what that guy is making his wife do" and was prepared to say "Not my idea !!" (it was hers). Finally, we did the bus as well to the Pier the next day. The closest stop to the Pier was just a couple blocks away (17th and Eisenhower, I think). I'm certain we were the only ones walking into the Pier that day. Luckily (for my crazy wife) the Golden was at the first Pier we came to. 2. We brought a few bottles of wine on board. Somewhere on these boards learned that if you bring on wine that's on their wine list, you don't get charged the $10 corkage fee. This is true. Felt a little strange plotting that out, but between bringing my own and not being charge the corkage fee probably saved about $100. At some of the ports I brought on a couple beers just to try something local. Nobody cared. However, they do take all the boxed liquor bought ashore and deliver to your cabin the last day. 3. Rented a car in St. Martin. Best Deal Car rental. Good price, brand new cars, right at the dock. Liked the freedom to just go where we wanted. Paid about $45. Booked in advance on the net. Read Less
Sail Date November 2003
GOLDEN PRINCESS DECEMBER 6-13TH 2003 We are a fifty-something couple and have cruised twice on Carnival, twice on Royal Caribbean and ten times on Princess. We enjoy every aspect of cruising. We used to try to get to every show, every ... Read More
GOLDEN PRINCESS DECEMBER 6-13TH 2003 We are a fifty-something couple and have cruised twice on Carnival, twice on Royal Caribbean and ten times on Princess. We enjoy every aspect of cruising. We used to try to get to every show, every activity, and were on the go constantly and totally exhausted when we got back home. Now we are much more laid back (or old?!) and spend lots of time relaxing on our balcony and just enjoy doing nothing. We flew out of Great Falls at 6 am on the 5th and finally reached Fort Lauderdale at 4:45 pm. I am not a good flyer, so the trip to and from the port city are always the worst for me. We stayed at the Doubletree Oceanfront which we got on Priceline and were very pleased with it. We had a 9th floor room with a small balcony. The location of the hotel was great--lots of shops, bars and restaurants nearby. We went out of backdoor of the hotel and had a great dinner at Pussers. Saturday morning we went to the convenience store across the street and bought some diet Coke for our frig, then took a cab to the ship. Check-in was quick and easy and we were in our cabin by noon. This was our second trip on the Golden, and we have also been on her sister-ships, the Grand and Star. We were in E728 the same minisuite with extended balcony that we had on the Star last year. We love that balcony! My husband refuses to have an uncovered balcony--we were on the Dolphin deck on the Grand awhile back and he was very unhappy with the open balcony. Our cabin steward was the best we have ever had--he was very friendly and efficient. We wrote a note about his great service and were generous with our extra tip to him. We started off our day onboard the Golden with lunch in the dining room. We have discovered that they have a dining room open the first day, but you have to look for it. It is a relaxing way to start the cruise, and better than fighting the crowds in the Horizon Court. Gary happened to check his cruise card and noticed that we had Personal Choice dining. We had booked this cruise in February and the cruise personalizer had continually showed us as second seating traditional guaranteed. We immediately went to talk to the maitre'd about changing to traditional and were told that a letter would be sent to our cabin before 5 pm that afternoon with our new dining assignment. Finally at 6 we called the dining room, then the pursers desk. We were told that they had overbooked the dining room and there was nothing they could do for us. Obviously early booking and platinum status are not taken into consideration. I think they gave our seating to some of the groups onboard, which seems very unfair. We were very disappointed with this and chose to go to Sabatini's that evening, as there were people lined up outside both P.C. dining rooms waiting to be seated. After dinner I sent an email to our TA. She emailed back immediately stating she was not happy with the change and she'd see what she could do. The next afternoon we got a letter with our requested dining assignment. We were very pleased -- until we got to the dining room and discovered that we had a table for 2 back in a corner that was right in front of the door to some office that the head waiter and other waiters go into constantly. I think they just stuck the table there for us. We had requested a table for 8, as we have a table for 2 at home every night! Our waiter and assistant waiter were good some nights and not so good other nights. I don't think they were pleased that we were there. We took advantage of room service and had breakfast on our balcony every morning. I had eggs benedict several times and they were great. The second formal night we called room service and were able to order dinner to enjoy on our balcony. We decided last minute to do that -- we'd showered and were lazy, so decided to skip the cocktail party, then said we didn't really want to get dressed up and go to the dining room. Shrimp cocktails, fettuccini and lobster on our balcony -- we were living the good life! We didn't go to many shows, but did see two comedians who were very good. We made our donation at the casino a couple of nights. Did see one lucky lady win $10,000 on the slots. We had black and white informal portraits taken. They take over a dozen for you to chose from. We ordered some photos in black and white and Christmas cards, which they did in color. The price for the cards was very reasonable. We decided not to book any of the ships tour. We shopped for an hour or two in St. Martin, then went to Maho Beach to watch the planes land. We had read about it, and Gary thought it would be fun. Well, the taxi driver let us off at the wrong bar--we saw the Sunset Beach Bar down the beach, so we headed down the beach and were watching the waves. All of a sudden there was a BIG plane coming in right over us--we hadn't seen or heard it and there it was, maybe 30' directly above us. I thought I was a goner! Anyway, we did enjoy our time at the bar watching the planes come in and it was a fun place to spend an afternoon. There is a great website for the bar, so take a look at the pictures there if you are interested. St. Thomas was a great day. We sailed on the Winifred with two other couples, one from the Golden and one from the Mariner of the Seas. We took a cab to Red Hook where Captain Sharon picked us up in her dinghy and took us to the Winifred. We sailed to St. John and found a nice place to snorkel. The snorkeling was great and there were only 7 of us in the area. Gary and I swam to the beach and were the only ones there. After snorkeling we were treated to a freshwater shower, then a delicious lunch. There was an open bar--the rum punch was the best. It was made with grapefruit juice so it wasn't terribly sweet. It was a perfect day--no crowds, no hassle, very relaxing. I have never had a better day at any port and would highly recommend the Winifred. It is a class act. Princess Cays was a bit cool, but very nice. We didn't go in the water there, just waked around a bit, sat and people-watched, then went back to the ship for lunch. We hadn't been there for two years and noticed many improvements. It is always a nice stop. Disembarkment was very easy. We went to the Vista lounge which was reserved for platinum members, read the paper, drank some coffee and had one last pastry. We were in no hurry to leave, as the tour we had planned to take in Fort Lauderdale had been cancelled. We took a cab to the airport and checked our luggage curbside, then found another cab and asked the driver to take us to a restaurant for lunch. He suggested a small seafood restaurant, Kelly's I believe it was called, which had wonderful clam chowder and fried oysters that Gary is still talking about! Hopefully we'll be able to find it next time we are in Fort Lauderdale.  Overall, the cruise was very good. Our one complaint would be the dining experience. I think this problem is becoming all too common and I hope that Princess addresses it. I did write to Princess about this and am waiting to hear what they have to say. The only other thing we missed was playing bridge -- there was no bridge director or organized bridge play. We did another booking while onboard, so we're back to studying brochures and getting prices. I am never happy until I get another cruise booked!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2003
My husband and I sailed on the Golden Princess the week of December 13th to celebrate our 3rd year wedding anniversary. This was my husband's first cruise, my second. My first one was a 3 night Carnival cruise about 8 years ago, so ... Read More
My husband and I sailed on the Golden Princess the week of December 13th to celebrate our 3rd year wedding anniversary. This was my husband's first cruise, my second. My first one was a 3 night Carnival cruise about 8 years ago, so after this experience, I won't even count that. I am 29 and my husband in 31. We have no children and did not travel as a part of a group. The first thing I will say to anyone who is worried about the cruise, don't worry! I found myself reading review after review and wondering if I had made the right choice. If you have booked a cruise on the Golden, you will not be disappointed. Our trip started with an overnight stay in Ft. Lauderdale Friday night. We stayed at the Sleep Inn in Dania, Florida. It was a very clean hotel, with good rates and service. The best thing about the hotel was the free transfers from the airport to the hotel and from the hotel to the cruise terminal. Both are about 10 minutes from the hotel. There is also a Walgreen's next door for last minute items and a park nearby for an early morning jog/walk before you make your way to the ship. I had heard horror stories about airlines loosing your luggage or your flight getting delayed and missing the boat, so I wanted to make sure I was there and settled in. You can avoid the hassle by booking air with the cruise line, but we found better rates, and wanted to travel on our airline at our convenience. We left the hotel at 11 AM, arriving at the dock around 11:20. There was already a line formed in front of the check in doors. We waited for a half an hour as the line got longer and longer. They opened the doors around 11:50. Check in was quick and simple. Make sure you do the advance check in. With security and everything we were on the ship and in our room in 10 minutes. We found our room on the plaza deck. We booked an inside cabin in July hearing about all the upgrades available. We did not get any free upgrades and the cost of a balcony or an ocean view was higher than if we had booked it from the beginning. We were concerned, being in a small room on the lowest level of the ship, but I was very happy we did not spend the money to upgrade our cabin. It was perfect for us! I expected the rooms to be somewhat low level and perhaps slightly cheap looking. I was surprised to find wood trimmed furniture, a spacious closet, nice lighting, pleasant paintings, mirrors, and a comfortable bed. The bathroom is tiny but there is a ton of storage space for toiletries and clothes. I had heard that I would need a nightlight and a power cord. Neither was necessary. There were plenty of outlets; we only used it because my husband's razor was not compatible with the outlet. The night light was nice because of the fragrance, but the controls for the hall light for the bathroom were conveniently located on both sides of the bed. We did not miss the balcony or seeing the water. There were plenty of private spots a short walk from our cabin to spend time outside or to watch the water. We were on the same floor as on of the dining room, the library, and only 1 or two floors from the shops and the theatres and other show lounges. We were far from the pools, workout facility and the food buffet, but it was not problem to take an elevator, and we got plenty of exercise taking the stairs. Back to the balcony; I will not pretend they are not a nice option to have. If you are going to spend the money, just make sure it is private. Some balconies can be seen by those above-if it is not going to be private, you might as well go sit with the other folks and save $500! Also there are some balconies and extend right over a public deck. My husband and I are talking a walk on the promenade deck and looked over to see two people sitting on their balcony. They were less than 5 feet from us and maybe elevated a couple of feet above the railing on the deck. I would not consider that type of balcony worth the extra cost. The first night of our cruise, I was pleasantly surprised by all that the ship had to offer. By dinnertime we had seen most of the ship. We decided to eat in the dining room. We had personal choice dining, so we were able to eat at any time the dining room is open. Be prepared for lines. I did not expect that, but there were lines 20 to 30 minutes long to eat at dinnertime. Reservations did not help because the Maitre D did not take kindly to people coming along side of him to tell them he had a reservation. It was very chaotic and distracting for him. So reservations did not really help, we still had to wait in line. The food was something I was worried about. I work for a company that allows me to dine in the finest restaurants during business meetings, and on my own terms I dine at non-chain restaurants for the most part. I was hoping the food was decent. It did not have to be 5 star, but I was looking for tasty, quality food. I was not disappointed. I did not have a "best I have ever tasted" experience, but the food was good. You eat what you like and leave the rest on your plate! Just because it is there and free does not mean you eat things that are not good! You can maintain your weight on a cruise if you don't eat things you don't like and to eat small portions of the things you do like. The pizza was great, hamburgers good, and the buffet was good if you use the rules I specified above. Some things on the buffet were good, others were not. Just pick and choose. And use the small plate! They hand you a huge platter sized plate when you walk in. You would never eat on plates that big at home, so why do it now? Tell the waiter, no thank you and find the smaller plates near the fruit section. One more tip, if you drink cokes at every meal or in between, buy the coke card for $22.50. It covers cokes from the bars, at all shows, and in the dining rooms. They give you a sticker to place on your cruise card. The coke card does not work with room service or on Princess Cays. The entertainment was decent, depending on your taste. Although we are younger, I felt that some of the entertainment was a bit racy and if I had young kids I am not sure I would have wanted them exposed to some of the material. The opening show was no better than an MTV video with provocative dance moves and outfits. The magic show was good but again, the assistant was wearing bikinis and g-strings. Not to judge others tastes or preferences, but you should be aware if you do not prefer this type of entertainment. Outside of those issues, the comedians were funny for the most part. My advice is to just go. You can always leave if you don't like it, but it is better than sitting in your cabin. We did not go to the casino or nightclub, but I am sure it is pretty standard. During the day there were a variety of activities. Again, I would suggest trying something you may not normally do. We went to a trivia session and had a great time and met some nice people. My husband entered some of the basketball competitions and won 3 silver medals! There were movies that played during the day. It was very nice; the only thing missing was the popcorn! We did not spend a lot of time at the pool, but they are very crowded during the day. The lap pool near the lotus spa had fewer kids and you could actually swim a bit. The workout facility was great. It has everything you need. Take advantage of the free classes they offer. They are a good way to again maintain your weight and it is fun to vary your normal fitness routine. The Lotus spa was very nice too. Watch for daily specials and you get a break on the prices. I got a mini facial-that lasted about 45 minutes-for only $20. The ports of call were nice. It was our first time to the Virgin Islands. St. Marteen had good shopping. We chose to explore on our own instead of a tour. They will tell you a ride to the French side will cost you $15/pp, but if you get with another couple or more, they will only charge $5/pp. The ride was nice, but I was not that impressed with the island. It might have been better to do an official tour or something to get more out of it. We are not big shoppers so I can not really comment. I will say, save your money on a water taxi or a land taxi to get to downtown Phillipsburg. It is a ten minute walk and there is a sidewalk all the way. We did have an official tour scheduled on St. Thomas. Godfrey was a tour guide and he has a website. This was the highlight of the trip. He will pick you up from the ship at 9, 10, or 11 depending on how long you want to shop, and he will take you downtown. The island tour starts at 12 from downtown and it takes you over the entire island. You can visit one of three beaches, Sapphire Beach, Coki Beach, or Megens Bay for 2 hours or have him take you back to the ship. We chose to go to Sapphire Beach because it was less crowded, no charge to get in, and the snorkeling is great. We rented beach chairs, and there was snorkeling and other water sport items available for rent. For this personal service and the ability to cater the day to your preferences made the $20/pp price seem like a steal. Especially if you compare it to the excursions the ship offers. Princess Cays is a nice way to end the week. You have the beach with picnic food. Our day was cloudy, so it was not enjoyable, but it is nice to have this to look forward to the last day of the cruise. This was a great vacation. We spent last summer at the Ritz Carlton in Jamaica for a week, and although not as luxurious, there was more to do on the boat, especially at night. For the money, this is a great deal. Have fun and enjoy your cruise! Read Less
Sail Date December 2003
Princess provides enough variety for all ages to have a good time. We traveled as a family of 14 with all ages and there is something for everyone. Our cabin was an inside cabin for 4 people and we had plenty of room for the amount of time ... Read More
Princess provides enough variety for all ages to have a good time. We traveled as a family of 14 with all ages and there is something for everyone. Our cabin was an inside cabin for 4 people and we had plenty of room for the amount of time you spend in it. We are not about staying in a room. There is plenty of things to do and see that you only need to use your cabin for sleeping and showering. The workout facility is great. Plenty of food and varieties. The Eastern Caribbean was well worth the trip. Shopping and sight seeing are easy to do on your own. Princess Cays is great for a day in the sun at the beach. My only negative thought is the pictures that the cruise line provides are mostly 8x6. It's an odd size to buy a picture frame for. I wonder if that was done on purpose. I ended up cutting most of the pictures to fit a standard 5x7 frame. Highly recommend taking this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2003
This was our fourth cruise on the Sun Princess and our 14th cruise in all, 13 of them being on Princess ships. This review will not be a comparison of Princess to other carriers but a subjective review of Princess and the Sun. Pre Cruise ... Read More
This was our fourth cruise on the Sun Princess and our 14th cruise in all, 13 of them being on Princess ships. This review will not be a comparison of Princess to other carriers but a subjective review of Princess and the Sun. Pre Cruise - Being from the snowy North (Michigan) we opted to fly into FLL a day early. We booked a pre cruise as offered by Princess at the Marriott North in Fort Lauderdale for $69 pp including all transfers. The rooms, if booked separately were over $200 per night. The Princess package was an exceptional value. We were picked up at the Hotel at about 12:45 on sailing day. The ride to the ship was about 20 minutes. Embarkation - Embarkation was a breeze, as always. From the time we got off the bus until we were on the ship was about 10-15 minutes. The only bad experience we have ever had with Princess embarkation was in New York City. We had lunch in the pizzeria - our luggage arrived about 3:30. We had an inside room as we normally do. Since we only sleep and shower in the room we don't feel we have to go the extra expense for an outside or balcony. There was adequate room to store all of our stuff in closets and drawers and our luggage under the bed. We had 2 29" pullmans, 2 airline carryons and a medium size rolling duffel. Yes, we always pack too much. Our cabin steward Jose fixed us up with robes and hangars and a few other requests in a prompt manner. I noticed some loose hinges on the closet doors and asked Jose if he could get them fixed. An hour later a maintenance man was in the cabin repairing the hinges. After unpacking and muster we went up to Topsiders at sailaway to meet some fellow cruise critics and have a sailaway drink. Ship condition - The ship was in excellent condition, as it was on our first Sun cruise in 1997. Crew was constantly painting and refurbishing deck chairs and boxes. Food - The food, as always, was excellent - not true gourmet quality, but as good as or better than most 3 and 4 star restaurants that we have dined in. It looked as if they had some new items on the menu. We usually eat all of our meals in the dining rooms as opposed to the Horizon Court buffet. We think the food is better, hotter and we enjoy being waited on. Ice Cream - I know there are a lot of complaints about having to pay for the Hagan Daaz ice cream. The Princess ice cream is made on the ship and is better than Hagan Daaz and can be had with breakfast, lunch, dinner and at 3:30 in the Horizon Court - How much more ice cream does a body need? Entertainment - The production shows were the same as we have seen on previous cruises but with different singers and dancers. We still enjoy watching them perform. We had seen the comedian and singer on previous cruises but they had some new material and were good. The lounge entertainer in the Atrium Lounge at night was very good. He sang and played mostly show tunes from Gershwin and Cole Porter. He had an extensive biographical knowledge of the Gershwin brothers, Cole Porter and their music. He also had a different type of humor which some people did not care for but he had standing room only every night. He picked on everybody in the audience or walking by with no regard for anything - kind of a Don Rickles type of humor - We thoroughly enjoyed him and were in the audience every night. PORTS Antigua - We arranged an independent tour with a local for $20 pp. He took us on a 4 - 5 hour tour and offered a beach stay for two hours. He was very good. Barbados - We had been to Barbados before so we just wandered into town. St. Vincent - There is nothing in St. Vincent - it appeared to be a cheap fuel stop for the ship. St. Martin - There were a total of 5 ships in port here - the town was severely crowded - St. Martin is a good place to get booze. St. Thomas - We booked an independent tour with a local here also. He offered a 2 hour tour - 2 hours shopping and 2 hours at a beach for $20 pp. Very good. Disembarkation - Disembarkation went fairly smooth - it seems there is always a madhouse in the terminal looking for luggage. Princess needs to organize this a little better. The Disney people (we have taken one Disney cruise) really do it good, but I don't know how. They disembark by early or late seating. After you eat breakfast you leave the ship - there are porters who will ask you your cabin number and number of bags and he finds them quickly with no tangle of people wandering around looking for their bags. Overall - Overall we really enjoyed the cruise - the food quality was some of the best we have experienced on Princess. Why do we keep going back to Princess? "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Read Less
Sail Date January 2004
EASTERN CARIBBEAN Sun Princess - January 10, 2004 St. Thomas - St. Maarten - St. Vincent - Barbados - Antigua Introduction My wife and I are 54 years old. This was our eleventh cruise. Our previous cruises have been: Princess - Eastern ... Read More
EASTERN CARIBBEAN Sun Princess - January 10, 2004 St. Thomas - St. Maarten - St. Vincent - Barbados - Antigua Introduction My wife and I are 54 years old. This was our eleventh cruise. Our previous cruises have been: Princess - Eastern Caribbean, Alaska, Panama Canal, Bermuda, Mediterranean Royal Caribbean - Western Caribbean Holland America - Mexican Riviera Getting there We made our own airline arrangements with Southwest Airlines and arrived the day before the cruise. Arriving early has plenty of advantages: you do not have to worry about airline delays; if your luggage is misdirected, there is an additional day for it to catch up; and, you can decompress from traveling before starting the cruise. We stayed at the Comfort Suites Airport & Cruise Port. We have stayed there numerous times and have not been disappointed. The hotel provides shuttle service from the airport and to the cruise terminal. There are many restaurants, grocery stores, liquor stores and at least one pharmacy within walking distance. Embarkation Our shuttle was scheduled for 10:30 a.m. and we arrived at the terminal sometime before 11:00. We handed our luggage to the longshoreman and watched as it was placed in the transport bin. There was quite a line at 11:00 even though the boarding process would not begin until 11:30. We had preregistered on the internet which made registration simply checking forms and signing documents. Unlike last year, there was no Bahamian immigration form to complete. From the time we entered the terminal until the time we were headed to our cabin not longer than 20 minutes elapsed. The ship and our cabin The ship is beautiful and not showing her age (1995) a bit. Captain Bob Oliver was in command of the ship. I am again amazed that a ship can transport 2,000 passengers every week of the year for more than 8 years and still look as good as the Sun Princess. There is an ambience of comfort, class and reflection throughout the ship. The ship is incredibly well designed as are all the Sun class ships. There are very few moments during the cruise when you have any sense that there are approximately 2,000 other passengers sharing the experience with you. The dining rooms are designed with dividers and level changes mixing tables of different sizes to create a feeling of intimacy even though there are about 500 other diners present. Our cabin was located on the Baja deck, B316 which is an interior location. The cabin was small but, considering the amount of time we spend in our room, it was more than adequate. The cabin can be made up into a queen bed or twin beds. Due to the configuration of the cabin, the shower was the largest we have ever had with an inside cabin. It took longer than normal for the luggage to arrive. I heard security screening was causing the delay although I have no first hand knowledge of that fact. There were no storage problems. The suitcases fit under the bed and there is ample closet and drawer space for clothing. Each cabin has a television with limited programming including recurring programs on the ports, shopping and excursions. The televisions have a video port which we used to review our digital photographs. Unlike the verandah cabins where the desk, dresser, night stand, and television/refrigerator area are all the same height, there was a floor to ceiling cabinet which holds the television at the highest level, the refrigerator at the lowest level, and a shelved section with a door in the middle which contains the safe and a fair amount of storage space. The hair dryer is located outside of the bathroom on the wall next to the desk area. There is one outlet over the desk and that is it in terms of regular outlets. There is a plug designed for multiple shaped plugs in the bathroom which is marked for shaver use only. The ship is 857 feet long. After looking at the hallway outside of your room and realizing how many times you are going to walk that hallway you might want to spend some time considering your room location before booking your cruise. There is a laundry room on each floor. Each laundry room has two washers, two dryers, an ironing board and an iron. Food The food was consistently very good. There were a few occasions when the food was outstanding but, more importantly, there were no occasions when the food was not good. Each night the menu contained an excellent variety of items. I am spoiled, living in the Midwest, by the quality of beef that I have grown accustomed to eating. The beef onboard was not bad, it just does not rise to the level of the beef I am used to eating at home. On the other hand, the quality and variety of the seafood served at dinner was excellent! There are only so many things you can do for breakfast but each day the kitchen staff was able to come up with something new and interesting on the breakfast menu in the dining room. The menu for lunch in the dining room included fuller meals that would be considered dinner as well as contemporary lunch items. Again, the variety was excellent and the food was well prepared. To be honest the service at breakfast and lunch in the dining room was not the same quality as the dinner service. We enjoyed having breakfast and lunch in the dining room whenever time permitted. Being served while meeting fellow cruisers is a lovely way to enjoy breakfast and lunch. The conversations with the other passengers seem to add to the entire cruise experience. The Horizon Court is a buffet which is open around the clock. It was okay but we didn't think it was anything special. If you were to compare the Horizon Court to the Lido Buffet served on Holland America ships, you would find that the Horizon Court pales in comparison. We only ate in the Horizon Court when scheduling required it or we were looking for a quick snack. The Riviera Grill is located outside above the main pool. It serves grilled items - hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken, bratwurst etc. We only ate there once and it was fine. The Riviera Grill closes at 5:00 p.m. so that it can be transformed into the Sterling Steakhouse. Sterling Steakhouse has increased its charge to $15.00 per person (it had previously been $8.00). We have dined at the Sterling Steakhouse on each of our three previous cruises on Sun class ships and thought that the extra $8.00 charge was not bad. We were shocked by the $7.00 increase and did not feel that what we had experienced in the past warranted the $30.00 surcharge per couple. The pizzeria serves a very nice pizza and they have expanded the menu to include some pasta items. I have to wonder why they do not have a standard Italian sausage pizza. The pizzeria was quite busy during the cruise and has obviously become a favorite alternative dining venue. Service Friendly and efficient describes the overall service. This description certainly is appropriate for room steward. Our waiter, Dorin, and assistant waiter, Alex, were very good. Our waiter had a wonderful personality and dinner was eagerly anticipated each evening thanks to our dinner companions and our wait staff. I must mention our dinner companions: Dave & Cindy, Ned & Vickie, Marvin & Edy and Ken & Cheryl. They were absolutely wonderful! The satisfaction of the entire cruise was raised to another level due to the camaraderie of the dinner table. A "small world isn't it" story is in order here. Ten to twelve couples on this cruise had been corresponding on a cruise chat board for some time prior to the cruise. The first night at dinner while conducting introductions we learned that a couple of us from the cruise chat group had been seated at the same table for dinner! Often overlooked are the personnel working the Purser's Desk. These people were always friendly and helpful. Excursions About six weeks before the cruise, Princess sends a list of all available excursions. You can book your excursions at that time (by mail, facsimile or over the internet). We booked one excursion on the Princess home page and our excursion tickets were in our cabin on arrival. We also booked two other excursions independently and we arranged two more excursions after arriving at the port. If you are considering a tour of a town or a tourist site that carries no risk and can be easily reached by taxi, you may want to consider touring independently. Alternatively, if the tour is unusual or runs the risk of delay or physical injury, you should consider booking with Princess. If something goes wrong, and you are on a Princess excursion, Princess will work it out. If you are on an independent tour and something goes wrong you are on your own. However, when the risk is minimal or non-existent, the Princess excursion will cost you more; it will be less personal; and, the delays will be exasperating. We have learned that when the situation is right we can see more of what we want to see in less time with a lot less aggravation at a much better price by touring independently. If you cannot decide whether to book a Princess excursion or to tour independently, you can book the Princess excursion and cancel onboard if you choose to tour independently. Be aware that canceling an excursion must be done by the deadline (usually 24 hours prior to the excursion) to avoid a penalty. Entertainment Dan Gibbons was the Cruise Director. He has a lot to learn about being a cruise director. He was not the worst we have experienced but he was far from the best. His morning show appeared to be directed to children on Saturday mornings rather than adults many of whom where on the far side of middle age. The entertainment was the usual mix of production shows, singers, and comedians. The production shows were excellent. The singer who we most enjoyed was Tony Cherry. Can he sing a ballad! The comedians ranged from very good to truly terrible. After leaving Ft. Lauderdale we encountered very windy conditions. Our first stop was Princess Cays but the chop on the water was severe enough that the Captain determined that tendering would be too dangerous and uncomfortable. Princess Cays has been a scheduled stop on three of our cruises. Only one of our ships have dropped anchor for Princess Cays. Each day at sea there were two sessions of bingo. The basic pack of three cards for each of five games ran $20 per session. The sessions get more and more crowded as the cruise goes on because of a roll-over on the last bingo game. The prize reached $3000 before someone won it at the last session. Art auctions have become as much a part of cruising as bingo. I was pleased to note that the hype concerning the art auctions was greatly reduced from our previous cruises. One of my frustrations was that the art for the auction was stuck everywhere on the ship detracting from the beauty of the ship and its own display of art. Princess seems to have heard these complaints and has greatly reduced the auction art which it has on display. Our first port was . . . . St. Thomas - we were docked from 7:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. St. Thomas is a mandatory stop for every cruise ship anywhere near it. The West India Company dock, which is the dock near the Havensight Mall, can only accommodate three cruise ships. Others have to anchor and tender passengers. The old submarine base at the other end of the harbor is now being used to dock cruise ships. It is called Crown Bay and there is a major remodeling effort in progress. I suspect when it is completed it will be similar to the facilities that have been built at St. Maarten. Crown Bay is where we docked. St. Thomas is not one of my favorite ports. It is too commercialized. The vendors have become too aggressive. There are too many visitors. I have wanted to ferry over to St. John in the past but events have prevented me from doing so. I was able to do it on this trip. There are no signs indicating where the ferry to St. John's boards in Charlotte Amalie. If you walk to the ferry terminal building you have taken a fairly good walk for nothing. There are several counters for ferries located in the ferry terminal but none of them go to St. John. The ferry pulls up in front of the stores (Little Europe to be precise) facing the bay and they sell tickets as you board the ferry. When they leave, no trace remains. The ferry ride over to St. Johns is 40 to 45 minutes from Charlotte Amalie. It is a nice ride with the beautiful shoreline of St. Thomas to observe on the way over. Once on St. John there are plenty of taxis. All of them appeared to be open jitneys. There is no negotiating for a fare. The fare is $16.00 per person for the standard tour which is a loop running along the shoreline and then back on the interior road or vice versa. Lots of wonderful beaches! A really beautiful place. If you want to get away from the shopping and hustle of St. Thomas go to St. John. St. Maarten - we were docked from 7:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. St. Maarten has constructed a wonderful new cruise terminal since we last visited. It appears to be able to dock four cruise ships at one time. A water taxi continually runs from the cruise terminal or you can walk or take a land taxi into town. There are a few shops in the new cruise terminal. We wanted to take the Rhino boat excursion in St. Maarten. We probably could have booked it on our own but chose to book it through the ship. Our reasoning was that it was across the island meaning that we would have to get a taxi if we were to do it on our own which would probably eat up any savings. It is the type of activity which could result in problems - injuries or delays. Booking with Princess meant that any problems became the problems of Princess. Finally, when an excursion has limited numbers (I presumed Rhino boats would have limited numbers), the cruise ships usually get first availability. I did not want to risk being squeezed out by the cruise ship excursions. What a good time we had. Rhino boats are small, inflatable, semi-rigid boats for two people. Each has a 25 hp engine and they go like the wind. Skidoos are impeller driven water cycles. Rhino boats are actual boats with outboard motors although you sit in them like you would sit on a Skidoo. Each group of Rhinos has a leader and you motor up the coast beyond Marigot. You stop for 45 to 60 minutes of swimming, snorkeling or wandering on a beach. Then you head back as a group. Everything in the boat gets wet but storage is provided at the office for anything you want to keep dry. St. Vincent - we were docked from 10:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. St. Vincent was a new stop for us and we think it is a winner! Making independent arrangements for an excursion was a little difficult because there is not much information available regarding private excursions. We were really fortunate to link up with Dani and Norris, gotalife@caribsurf.com, home (784) 457-5237 cell (784) 455-5556. They run a taxi service and have a guest house. They also provision yachts. Dani conducts the business end of things and Norris gives the tours. We certainly recommend them. St. Vincent has yet to succumb to the influence of tourism and the corrosive nature of tourist revenue. Our tour started with a drive to Montreal Gardens. The drive provided us with a good idea of the island and its population. We drove through small communities, around mountains, though valleys and saw persons in their daily routines farming, shopping and carrying produce to market. We drove up the Mesopotamia Valley to Montreal Gardens. Montreal Gardens are privately owned by a Welshman who takes great pride in maintaining, expanding and improving them. Originally, the gardens were a plantation but have been transformed by their owner into a delightful garden spot in the mountains. There is a collection of flora and fauna reflective not only of the island but the entire Caribbean. The walkways throughout the gardens are well maintained. From the gardens we drove to the windward side of the island and observed the black sand beaches. The black sand is the result of lava that has been ground into pumice by the action of the waves. The color of the sand causes it to absorb and retain heat making it uncomfortable for beach use. The wave action and tides make swimming on this side of the island dangerous. Our tour looped south along the shore until we returned to the villages on the outskirts of Kingstown. We stopped for lunch at a lovely restaurant directly across from Young Island before returning to the ship. Barbados - we were docked from 7:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. We visited Barbados during our cruise in January, 2003. At that time we booked an all day excursion with Glory Tours (www.glorytours.org). We were so pleased with our tour we booked them for this trip. We were picked up outside the entrance to port. We arrived at the Signal Station before the tour buses arrived which gave us extra time to explore and take pictures. We then went to Earthworks Pottery and watched as the pieces were being made. We crossed over to Bathsheba and Cattlewash. This is one of my favorite places! What a breathtakingly beautiful spot! We stopped for lunch at a local eatery near the beach where we had a very good lunch. We then moved on to Orchid World. Orchid World is a large complex devoted to the growing of orchids. There are more orchids located in this one place than you can possibly imagine! Our last stop on the tour was the wildlife preserve. The monkeys, deer, tortoises, and agouti all run free. The place appeared to have run down a bit from our visit the previous year. A word of caution - the roads returning to the ship get very busy around 3:00 with a mix of business traffic, school buses and tourists running to their ships. Do not cut your return time to the ship too close. We left Barbados and sailed to . . . . Antigua - we were docked from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. I had loosely arranged to meet a cab driver/tour operator to drive us around the island. We were late disembarking and I learned that he had left on a tour. He had, however, left us in the hands of a great tour guide, Lawrence of Antigua, http://lawrenceofantigua.com/. I was excited about returning to Nelson's Dockyard which I had experienced on an earlier visit to the island. It was a living history museum recreating the time when Admiral Nelson maintained a major shipyard here to keep the very young American government in check. There were two other similar bases one in Bermuda and the other in Nova Scotia (I think). To my shock and dismay, the living history aspect has been replaced by businesses catering to the luxury yachts which now anchor in the harbor. Of course, the historical aspect is still present but it is now more like an afterthought rather than being the soul of the place. Shirley Heights, which was part of the base, remains another of those places that are breathtakingly beautiful. In the vicinity of Shirley Heights, do not miss the Dow's Hill Interpretation Centre. There is a nice animated presentation encapsulating the history of the island. Lawrence took us out to Devil's Bridge which is an interesting geologic formation created by the pounding surf. It reminded me of the natural bridge in Aruba but I found it much more interesting because of the way the water has honeycombed the rock of the entire area. Returning to the ship we stopped at Betty's Hope. This was Antigua's first sugar plantation dating back to 1650. There are twin windmills which you can explore. One of the buildings contains exhibits regarding the plantation and sugar production. Two days at sea before we returned to . . . . Ft. Lauderdale Debarkation was very smooth. We walked through the various check points collected our baggage and we were on our way. Conclusion The Sun Princess is a wonderful ship! Of course, we are a bit biased as we love the Sun class ships of Princess. This is our fourth cruise on one of the Sun class sisters. She has been tastefully appointed with an understated elegance. The staff is friendly, efficient, and first class. If the opportunity presents itself, we would certainly cruise on the Sun Princess again. Princess is a wonderful cruise line which does so many things right. When you spend as much money as you do on a cruise and take hard earned vacation time you expect the experience to be something very special. Princess understands this and does not disappoint. We would be happy to answer any questions. Just drop us an E-mail. Bill & Lu Schwartz schwartzbill@yahoo.com Read Less
Sail Date January 2004
I sailed on the Golden Princess Jan 10, 2004 Eastern Caribbean. This ship was kept up very nicely for being a few years old. All of Princess ships are so nicely kept up. The Golden Princess had a lot of things to do maybe too much to do. ... Read More
I sailed on the Golden Princess Jan 10, 2004 Eastern Caribbean. This ship was kept up very nicely for being a few years old. All of Princess ships are so nicely kept up. The Golden Princess had a lot of things to do maybe too much to do. Although I had a nice time on this ship, but it was just too big for me. This was my 20th cruise 6th with Princess. I wanted to try a big ship because I heard so many people talk about how nice a big ship is. Well, it's good to go on it if the cost is cheap. We only paid $520 for outside cabin for P203 which was in a great location in the front of the ship. No, I could not feel any motion on the big ship which I disappointed   Food: The Horizon Court buffet was good. I thought the food was better on the Sun Princess which I just went on two months before this cruise. Dinner was very good. Im always to full for dinner anyways. We ate at the "eat wherever dinning" which we all loved. You could go whenever you wanted. Since we had such good service from our waiter and buss boy we asked for them all time and always had the same table by the window table 14. The Golden Princess dining rooms were just like the Sun class ships. Very cozy! Not big or loud like on other cruise lines. In the Horizon Court from 3-4pm they have free ice cream. If you were still hungry after dinner, the Horizon court had dinner up to 10:30 pm. Some times they had the same food as in the dining room. After 10:30 p.m. they brought out sandwiches. I would eat every two hrs on this ship. You will never go hungry on princess like you do on other cruise lines. Food is everywhere! The pizza was very good at the pool area. The Golden Princess did not have the Sterling Steak House, but had some other pay restaurant instead which looked nasty. This place was never crowded. And the main walkway cut right though the restaurant. This pay restaurant was only $8. The Sterling Steak House was so awesome on the Sun Class Ships. So I was disappointed they did not have the Steak Houses on the big ships. Entertainment: The Entertainment was very good on Princess. They used to suck, but have gotten a lot better since Carnival bought out Princess. Some people we saw were: STU MOSS(Comedian), Sarge(Comedian), David Deeble(Comedy/Juggler), Gaetano (Magic & Illusions), Ed Fernandez (Comedy Hypnotist) They also had some evening movies in the Vista Lounge. Cabin: Our cabin was P203 outside front of the ship. I like the front so I can feel motion. With this cabin we never really felt motion. So I was disappointed in that. You have lots' of space for your clothes. This cabin is so big. I was use to the Sprit of Alaska on Cruise West. Their cabin was the size of princess bath room. Don't complain about the bathroom being small because on the Cruise West their bathroom was the size of princess shower. So Princess has some big bathrooms and cabins. Why I don't like this ship? I did not like this ship just because it was too big. Things were so spread out and you had to walk far to get somewhere. You had no deck chairs on promenade deck because the walkway is to narrow. Instead, they had a few benches. It sure isn't like the Sun class ships. Too many people everywhere. You can never get away from people on this ship. People are everywhere. Even at 1:30 in the morning I saw people. At the dinner buffet at 10:20 it was always packed up there. Whenever you went to the dinner buffet at 10:20 on the Sun Class Ships, you were basically eating with just the crew. You can tell there is an extra 650 passengers than the Sun Class Ships. Another bad thing about this ship is you could not go in the front of the ship to see the bow. The only area where you could see forward was in front of the basketball court looking though glass and you still could not see forward. The only good area to see forward was on promenade deck, but was closed after dark. I like to see forward and look for animals with the wind in my face. Not on this ship! Golden, Grand, Star, Diamond and Sapphire Princess would be terrible for Alaska. You could not see anything. My family booked a balcony on the Diamond which is just a little bigger than the Golden. Since you could not look forward on this ship, the balcony we choose was facing forward. But Princess just changed the forward balconies because on their sea trails the wind was blowing furniture around. So instead of the front balcony, Princess will just have a window for the front. So we booked a north bound on the Dawn Princess instead of the Diamond. The Dawn is just like the Sun. The Sun Class Ships are the perfect size. Since I don't like the bigger ships, I asked the caption why princess keeps building bigger ships. He Said "Princess gets a lot more money with the bigger ships."One more thing, If you have a balcony on the Golden Princess you may be looking down on another balcony or a balcony above you may be looking down on you. The Golden's balconies don't go strait down but, stick out more by each level. One good thing about the bigger ships are you always have seats to sit at the buffet compared to the Sun class ships. The Golden Princess is a nice ship with a ton of things to do. It's great for the Caribbean or Mexico, but wont be good at all for Alaska. My family and I booked a cruise to Alaska on the Dawn Princess a north bound. After we get off the Dawn, my sister, bother and I will go on Cruise West The Sprit of Alaska where you can actually see stuff. Feel free to write me if you have any questions. Im very picky on my ships and one of my hobbles is cruising which I know a lot about. Most people love the big ships since there is so much to do, but for me I like the smaller ones where it seems like your on a ship. Brian Lashchuk Bdadylash@aol.com Read Less
Sail Date January 2004
My husband and I just got back from our 7-night Eastern Caribbean Cruise aboard Golden Princess. Sail date of 1-24-04. We were also on the Grand Princess for the Western Caribbean in 5-03. I have cruised princess 3 times and my husband 2. ... Read More
My husband and I just got back from our 7-night Eastern Caribbean Cruise aboard Golden Princess. Sail date of 1-24-04. We were also on the Grand Princess for the Western Caribbean in 5-03. I have cruised princess 3 times and my husband 2. I am 34 and my husband is 41. We were in room L310 (Lido Deck, BA category cabin)- No upgrade received. Embarkation Day- Saturday January 24 This was a very smooth process. We arrived by car and parked in the parking garage at port ($12/day). We spent the night prior to at the Wyndam Fort Lauderdale Airport. I got a good deal through priceline.com $70.00/night. I was planning to use the parking service through autorent.com ($6.00/day) but husband wanted the convenience of getting off boat and going right to our car. Last year we stayed at the AmeriSuite for a good price and parked there for free. Price was much higher this time of year tripled from May of last year. Hindsight- wish I would have stayed there. They are also right next door to Outback Steak house. We got our key cards and were disappointed that my husband did not get his (GOLD) previously sailed captains circle color card. No big deal just a different color. We found out later that this happened to a lot of people so don't worry they fixed the problem. See Roxy Captians Circle Rep. We hurried to our room and were impressed with the view of our balcony room. Lido deck is convenient to pools, bar and horizon court but with it being so high- you do feel more movement. George is a great steward. We had heard that one restaurant would be open that day for a sit down lunch. We tried them all nothing open but Horizon Court. It was good food. We went to our room an skipped the drill (Princess does not take names). I made reservations for Painted Dessert for Dinner for both formal nights, since we dress up all the time a vacation to us is not wearing formal clothes. Meals were great here, really liked the Margarittas. On GOlden Princess this restaurant serves lobster on both formal nights- this in not on the menu on Golden. Room service is available and you can get lobster on Thursday night if you wish. Bought my soda card for $22.50- Well worth the bargain. Day 2 and 3 at Sea- A lot to do on the boat. Loved horse racing. Paul was a good Cruise Director. Shows were good. Really liked Sarge and the Magician. Weather at sea 75-78 degrees. Waves were slight to moderate most of the time. Casinos- SLots are very tight. DOn't waste your time. There were never many people. I guess they have figured out that since Carnival bought the cruise line they have really tightened up. Never even saw one person play wheel of fortune. No one ever won Jackpot on boat while I was in the Casino. Husband likes to play nickels. Last year he could play on hour for $10.00. He would win a little and loose a little. It was hard to find a machine. Never hard this time. We did participate in the slot tournament which was a lot of fun. Saint Martin (Weather 80 degrees) Great Shopping. Buy your cigarettes and alcohol here. Even though the cruise ship recommends you by in St. Thomas. Because you do go to Saint Thomas you customs allowances are 200 cigarettes a person and a lot of liquor. We bought 7 bottles. We shopped on the dutch side and went to casinos. Bought linen at Mr. Tablecloth. Really like Casino by McDOnalds. Payouts are good on slots. Saint Thomas (Weather 82 degrees, water cool but comfortable) Went on a private shore excursion separate from cruise ship. Went on Winifred. We enjoyed the day. Sharon and her mate were a delight. The experience was great the snorkeling was fair. We have been to Grand Cayman and Mexico and did not see as many fish but enjoyed the tour. Kinda pricey at $110/person but only 6 people on the boat at a time. Met nice friends and would definitely do again (especially with children). They also served a nice meal aboard. www.sailwinifred.com. Princess Cays Nice beach. Little shopping. Our day was cloudy. Last Day If you use a porter to get to parking garage $20.00 minimum. Overall Impressions Would definitely sail princess again. Really liked Saint Martin shopping. I am a sun person so if I did again I would wait until May for the weather to warm up. Also the seas are smoother. We did not have a problem with chairs. They were always available. Chocolate Banana Great Drink aboard. Read Less
Sail Date January 2004
This was our first cruise and perhaps you want to know our experience. Our voyage was #5407. Much of our voyage was good to excellent. The following spoiled a generally favorable experience. Luggage transfer from dock to cabin took ... Read More
This was our first cruise and perhaps you want to know our experience. Our voyage was #5407. Much of our voyage was good to excellent. The following spoiled a generally favorable experience. Luggage transfer from dock to cabin took from noon to 4:00PM. That is an issue if you consider that we were dressed in winter dress from up north and could not change for 4 hours. Luggage transfer from cabin to dock, took from 8:30AM to noon AND they managed to lose one suitcase, not recovered until afternoon. This is a crazy system since we could have easily carried the 3 pieces to the dock ourselves. Sabatini Restaurant, Manager Edwardo, was a very great disappointment, compared to the other excellent restaurants. We experienced numerous bones in fillet of Sea Bass. OK, that can happen. But, when we complained, this manager decided to pull service from our table. We expected some gesture of apology. We entertained our guest, Mr. and Mrs. Knoy, who are Platinum members of your cruise. They were more disappointed then we were. Subsequently we complained to your pursers desk. They assured us that a customer representative would contact us. No such luck. Is that how you treat your customers? I think I rather go to a high class resort next trip. Read Less
Sail Date February 2004
You have to sail Princess, they are a class above the rest. Entertainment was magnificent, food was better than all of the other cruises I've been on and it was fairly inexpensive for a balcony room- Terrific experience, got out of ... Read More
You have to sail Princess, they are a class above the rest. Entertainment was magnificent, food was better than all of the other cruises I've been on and it was fairly inexpensive for a balcony room- Terrific experience, got out of the snow and freezing temps and onto beautiful beaches in 90 degree weather. Do the shore excursions on your own. You'll save a bundle and get the same thing. Don't miss Fernandez the hypnotist show, I've never enjoyed a show that much in my life. Uber Rossi is extremely entertaining and funny as well. Comedians were good, great shows. Very important, If you get a balcony room on the Golden Princess make sure its on the 8th deck or higher, otherwise everybody above you can see on your balcony and there is no point in having it. We were lucky and on the 8th deck so we could see everyone on the 7th and 6th deck balconies- needless to say they didn't use their balconies much and certainly not to the extent that we used our balcony :) Lobster night is very impressive (The lobsters are fresh, I ate 4). The service of the waiters and room steward is impeccable. Read Less
Sail Date February 2004
Travel: Left Detroit Metro on NW day before cruise. Stayed at the Renaissance on se 17th. Convenient location for walking to restaurants, water taxi, grocery store, etc. No longer has shuttle from/to airport. Enjoyed the water taxi/bus ... Read More
Travel: Left Detroit Metro on NW day before cruise. Stayed at the Renaissance on se 17th. Convenient location for walking to restaurants, water taxi, grocery store, etc. No longer has shuttle from/to airport. Enjoyed the water taxi/bus ride on Friday nite. Route A personnel, relaxed and entertaining. Had appetizer at HOPS during happy hour 4-5, I think. Nice place. Rode water taxi to Mangos on Los Olas Blvd for supper. Jumping place..food okay! Shopped at Publix for water and wine(huge selection), then short taxi ride Read Less
Sail Date February 2004
Golden Princess sailing 2/7 to 2/14 2004 My wife and I arrived at the ship at around 10 AM a little early, but it was interesting watching the departing passenger's leave the ship. As more and more people showed up a line began to ... Read More
Golden Princess sailing 2/7 to 2/14 2004 My wife and I arrived at the ship at around 10 AM a little early, but it was interesting watching the departing passenger's leave the ship. As more and more people showed up a line began to form to check in. Once the door opened it only took a few minutes for us to process in and on to the ship as I said we where early but I think we where in our cabin at Baja 425 at around 11:30. Let the food and fun begin!!! First destination is St Maarten a two day sail away, lots of things to do all day and night during the sea days, we rested and ate getting out of bed at around 10 am every day then up to the Horizon court to eat breakfast. As on most cruses everything revolves around food, and everything we ate was truly outstanding. Then dinner at 6:15 again outstanding service, presentation and quality, then off to the shows. We like traditional dinning and a large table (6 to 10 seating) we had a table for 8 but 2 of our table mates bailed after the first night but the 6 remaining had a great time for the rest of the week. I highly recommend this type of seating. At St. Maarten we went to Orient beach on a ship organized excursion. The beach was great, beautiful white sand and clear blue water, a wonderful day at the beach. I would highly recommend a visit to this beach, but I don think I would go on a ship excursion, we paid around $50 each for this trip, the price included transportation a couple of drinks and a lunch, well the lunch was not very good and leaving the ship at 9:00 and returning to the ship at around 1:30 made for a very short day. If you take a taxi your day be can be a lot more flexible and affordable. If you don know, Orient beach is clothing optional nothing to get to excited about, there where a few people who where nude or partly nude, but what I had heard about this beach was definitely true "Those who should take their clothes off don, and those who should not do", so don get your hope up too high. We also did a little shopping; I would rate the overall experience as very good. We re-boarded and set sail for St Thomas at 6:00. At St. Thomas at 6:00AM, as this was our second visit to this island we had a good idea of what we wanted to do, BUT the market seems to be overwhelmed with time share people. Somehow we got suckered into going up to a sales pitch on a place there on the island, I am not sure if it was a scam or not but we did not see the place they where trying to sell, we saw "Bluebeard castle" a resort that was sold out, the one they where selling was just around the cove just out of sight, lots of pictures BUT, anyway please be careful! As we spent so much time with the time-share guys we missed the excursion to Megan's bay, so the wife spent the afternoon shopping, making some very good buys. My only other complaint about this port is that we where REQUIRED to clear immigration, not when you leave the ship but between 6:30 and 8:30 way too early for me, and they really do not look at the paperwork, just "where were you born city, and state...... OK that's it thank you ......." What a waste of time!!!! Overall rating of the island was GOOD. We set sail for Princess Cays at 6:00, after sailing for approximately 1 hours we turned around and returned to St. Thomas, as one of the passengers required medical evacuation, so after launching a lifeboat, taking the person ashore, and recovering the boat, four hours had elapsed. The next morning the captain said that he was trying to make up some of the lost time, running at full power making 25kts burning 2000 gallons of fuel an hour. Due to the late departure we did not arrive at Princess Cays till 8:30 and after a long wait for tenders we made it ashore at around 10:30, this was by far the best stop on the entire trip it was so nice, deep cool white sand clear blue water, loads of fish, tons of things to do, food and drink all on your ship card. But be sure to bring some cash as there are some local venders and I am told there is a "flea market" just on the other side of the "bridge". There are a lot of water sports available, but if you are adventurous try the banana boat, it a long thin boat shaped like a banana, that they tow behind a boat, very fast and a lot of fun. We set sail from Princess Cays at 3:30 for Ft Lauderdale, arriving at 6:30 AM. After the normal formalities, we started the disembarkation process. It is well organized and very quick. We had a 12:10 flight out of Ft. Lauderdale, and we were at the airport by 10 AM. You can buy a transfer form the ship to the airport, on the ship for $10 PP to FLL and $15 to MIA I think a best buy. This was our third cruise and second on Princess, and I felt that this was a great trip. Most of the crew did everything in their power to make this a memorable one. Read Less
Sail Date February 2004
Opening Comments: We are back from the 02/21/04 Golden Princess cruise of the Eastern Caribbean. We had a wonderful time on the cruise and our comments and comparisons to past cruises on Carnival and Royal Caribbean will follow. Please ... Read More
Opening Comments: We are back from the 02/21/04 Golden Princess cruise of the Eastern Caribbean. We had a wonderful time on the cruise and our comments and comparisons to past cruises on Carnival and Royal Caribbean will follow. Please remember that our experiences, likes and dislikes mary vary from yours completely. We are in our late 40's and this is our 6th cruise and first with Princess. Arrival: We flew down to Ft. Lauderdale from Columbus, OH the same day that the ship was departing. This was a first for us as we normally fly down a day early but we decided to try it and save a little money and see how it felt. We had a direct flight leaving at 6:30am which we felt gave us some leeway time in case of delays. The weather was sleet, snow and some freezing rain and we had to be de-iced before takeoff but we left on time with no problems. We arrived at 9:15 and had planned on getting some breakfast after collecting our baggage but there is really no place to eat except a coffee shop so we decided to get a taxi and head to the port where we arrived about 10:15. Disembarkation was still in progress and they were not taking luggage so we sat beside the terminal watching and waiting. Between 10:30 and 11:00 they began taking luggage and we gave our checked baggage to the porter and joined the line forming at the entrance. We were about 25th in line. They opened the doors about 11:30 and we were the first ones in line at the Emerald desk. We had filled out all forms on-line so checking in was fast and smooth. We were shortly on the Golden Princess and headed for our cabin on Emerald deck. After lunch we toured the ship and swam. At 3:30 we met up with Sandy and Jim from Michigan and Kim and Jim from Massachusetts whom we had been chatting with on the Golden Princess roll call board. Sandy and Jim suggested we eat dinner together which we all enjoyed. The lifeboat muster was held at 4:00pm and was very thorough. Our muster station was inside a lounge so you could be seated comfortably throughout. The ship left the dock about 45 minutes behind schedule as they were waiting for late arriving flights into Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. Cabin: We had booked a category HH obstructed view and were upgraded to FF. Our cabin number was 423 on the starboard side amidship. The stairway and elevators were right outside our door and the midship location made this very convenient as we had virtually no walking thru the cabin hallways. This cabin has bunkbeds that fold up along the wall. The two twins were made up as a queen centered under the window. Although there was a lifeboat outside the window we could see down to sea level on the left side and the top of the lifeboat was level with the bottom of the window so we had a good view out to the horizon with plenty of natural lighting. The cabin was laid out differently than other ships we have been on and it felt slightly smaller. There is plenty of space for hanging clothes and plenty of sturdy hangers but not quite as much drawer or shelf space. The bathroom was also slightly smaller with less storage but adequate. There was no shower gel or shampoo dispenser , but there were small packages of shampoo, conditioner and lotion. There is a room safe that works on a 4 digit combination that you enter each time you open or close it. The thermostat controlled the temperature of the room well but took a little while to completely cool down. There was plenty of very hot water with a strong flow in the shower and we did not experience any foul odors anywhere on the ship the entire cruise. The only drawback to the cabin was that it was positioned directly above the doors that opened to the promenade deck so there was quite a constant banging as people passed thru. Fortunately as it got later in the night few people ventured out so it was not too distrustful to sleeping but definitely something to be aware of when booking a specific cabin. Ports: Our first port stop was St. Maarten on Tuesday where we were docked by 7:00AM. We left the ship about 9:45 and walked a short distance to a city bus stop. We were not exactly sure what to look for but soon it was apparent that vans with placards in the window announcing their destination were the "city buses" so we flagged one down that was headed to Mullet Bay. It was about a 30 minute ride in moderate traffic with the bus stopping here and there picking up and dropping off locals. It was an enjoyable ride and the price of $1.50 per person was great. We enjoyed Mullet Bay beach very much. There is food, lounge chairs and umbrellas available for rent. The beach and water were very nice. There is a rocky area to the left that some people were snorkeling over but do not know if there was much to see. We did see quite a few topless sunbathers so be prepared for some nudity. We swam, strolled and relaxed for a couple hours and then took about a 15 minute walk over to Maho Bay beach to watch the aircraft land and depart. It was quite thrilling watching and feeling a 747 land just over your head. A popular sport is to" hang on for dear life" to a chain link fence as a jet departs the runway. You are only 50-75 yards behind it and there is quite a blast of air and sand to be felt. Also if you are lying on the beach beware as paperback books, flip flops, life rings, etc. are blown out into the water quite far. We enjoyed the afternoon although there is no shade whatsoever at Maho Beach so it was easy to get some sunburn. We caught a city bus back to town and did some shopping before getting back onboard. Our second port was St. Thomas on Wednesday and we were tied up at Havensight by 7:00 am. Disney, RCI, Celebrity, and Costa all had ships in port on this day. It took about 30 minutes to get thru the immigration line and we left the ship about 9:00 am. We were headed to Trunk Bay on St. John so we caught a taxi for $8.00 pp to Red Hook where the ferry departs. This was about a 15 minute ride. We sat around and waited for the ticket booth to open as the next departure was 10:00 am. A line formed and we finally got into it and probably were not too far from not making it on that ferry as they are not terribly large. I would suggest getting in line as soon as it starts forming to be sure that you get on. We bought one way tickets for $3.00/pp and the ride was 20-25 minutes to St. John. We joined up with a man on the ferry who was recruiting passengers to Trunk Bay and followed him on a short walk to his taxi. He took us to Trunk Bay for $4.00/pp which is a 10-15 minute ride with some beautiful views of the ocean. The cost is $4.00 to enter Trunk Bay which is a national park. They have excellent facilities and there is food and chairs available for rent. There are plenty of shady areas although it does get quite crowded as the day passes. We left Trunk Bay about 2:00pm and headed back to Cruz Bay to catch the 2:45 ferry to downtown Charlotte Amalie. This ferry costs $7.00/pp and is an enjoyable 30-35 minute ride. We did a little shopping downtown then had a 20-25 minute walk back to the cruise ship dock at Havensight. We were frequently moving faster than the traffic along side us as it is quite heavy late in the day as people are heading back to the ships. Princess Cays: Our final port stop on Friday was to be here but the wind and waves were too severe to allow us to safely tender so Captain Nick Nash apologetically announced "such is life" and we weighed anchor and slowly headed west to Port Everglades. The Ship: We felt that the ship was beautiful with lots of attractive paintings and murals everywhere. The centrum /atrium area although pretty did not have the "WOW" factor of other ships we have been on. The dining rooms are also a little difficult to find with the galley placement requiring you to go up or down a deck at times. The ship was clean although it showed a bit more wear and tear than some other ships of the same vintage it seemed. Nothing major, just little things you notice after cruising several times. We enjoyed having the four pools available with the water heated to a very pleasant temperature. The adult pool at the aft of the ship was very pleasant to relax in and the views when seated around it on any of the levels is spectacular. The casino is the largest we have seen with plenty of space between tables and machines, although it was also the most under used that we have been in. Quite dead many evenings with empty tables at times. We also felt that the casino staff was not as friendly and personable as on other ships we have sailed. Slot payouts seemed to be few and far between which may have accounted for the lack of activity. The slots are open 24 hours when you are at sea although there was not always a cashier present so be sure that you have money that a machine will accept. We participated in quite a few of the games and activities and they all seemed to be held on schedule as far as we could tell. The basketball area is a little disappointing as there is a sloping canopy roof that limits your shots and the backboad and rim could use some straightening. We do not go to too many shows generally. The first one that we attended was pretty good with nice set changes and high energy level. The second one was broadway show tunes which just did not appeal to us and we left after about 20 minutes. Other people that we talked to said that they enjoyed the various shows that they attended so that is all we can offer. The Princess Theatre has very good sight lines with no obstructing poles or columns. The walking/jogging track is pretty narrow and would be nicer if there was room for two people to walk side by side and still leave room for someone to pass. The gym is also pretty small with everyone confined in a rather tight area for the machines and weights. Some lounge acts were well attended and some were not. Karaoke seemed to be well attended at most times. Skywalkers night club is very unique. The views from high above are impressive and it is a nice place to relax during the day. Was not really busy in the evening but picked up as the night went on. You could not walk around the entire promenade deck at night when at sea as the forward section is roped off. Plenty of room for strolling although there are no lounge chairs, only benches. The ship was very stable and there was little motion although the seas were generally quite calm with only some 4-7 foot waves on a day or two. Food and Dining: We had requested traditional dining as that is what we were used to having and had enjoyed it in the past as we had generally been seated with guests near our own age. We had marked a table for 6 but we were placed at a table for four with a very elderly couple. One night was fine but just did not feel that we could have a week's worth of conversation with them so we decided to switch to personal choice. We prefer to dine on the early side and usually ate between 6:15 and 7:00. There was never any wait, even when we requested a table for two. Our general thoughts on personal choice for us is that if we were dining each night with the same people it would be very nice. We did get tired of answering the same questions each night as to where you were from, what do you do, and do you have a balcony? We do miss getting to know the waiter and assistant on a more personable level and some of the joking around that goes on as the week progresses. We also felt that the service was a bit slower than we have had in the past but nothing drastic. The dining room food was very good although the salads were disappointing at times. We always found something appealing and tasty to choose from. We ate breakfast and lunch in the Horizon Court. The selections were good for both meals and the food was hot and well prepared. We did miss the made-to-order omelet station from past cruises. The flow can be very bad at times especially when it is crowded as there is just not enough room in the aisles. For us there is no better layout than on the Radiance of the Seas. It just never felt crowded at any time. We also like to eat outdoors and it is quite a long walk all the way to the back of the ship. It was also disappointing that there were no other cold drinks such as lemonade or punch available at the beverage centers only bad iced tea and water. We also definitely missed the free ice cream that was available 24 hours on Carnival and most of the time on RCI. We did enjoy the nice selection of desserts. The pizza was good and plentiful as were the fries and sandwiches. Misc. Observations: The purser's desk was well staffed with friendly and helpful employees. We felt that the level of service from room steward to dining was very comparable to the other cruise lines we have experienced. There was a nice range of ages on the ship from young to old and we felt that the guests behaved well and respected each other in most cases. There was the normal chair saving which may seem a little worse on Princess as there are a limited number of chairs around the pools that are in full sun. Generally you could find a chair where you wanted with a little searching. We really felt that a towel exchange would be nice around the pool areas as lugging a wet towel back to your cabin is not the most fun. It seems as if they would really like you to keep the same towel all day. They will exchange it if you ask but it does not seem like they prefer you to. Disembarkation: Princess prefers that you place the majority of your luggage in the hallway prior to going to dinner which was different for us and makes things a bit more difficult. Disembarkation began about 8:30AM. which is also the time that you have to be out of your cabin. You can wait anyplace on the ship which is nice as opposed to being crowded in a hallway or lounge. We had brown no.5 tags which is next to last to leave the ship which was fine for us as out flight home was not until 8:15pm and we wanted to stay on as long as possible. It also makes it much easier to find your luggage. It is also worth tipping the porter to take your bags which gets you out of the terminal much faster than waiting in the long line. We had rented a car thru National and they picked us up at the port and took us to the rental area at the airport. We booked the car online and used the "quickrent" feature which has you in your car and on your way quite painlessly. We drove around Ft.Lauderdale and walked the boardwalk at Hollywood. Also dropped off our film for one hour processing so we could enjoy our pictures on the flight home. Dropped the rental car off and they shuttled us to the airport terminal for our return flight home. It was a nice relaxing day. Conclusion: It was nice to meet our friends from Cruise Critic and look forward to reading their reviews and perspective of the cruise. We enjoyed the cruise very much and took advantage of Princess open cruise booking for a future trip. We are glad that we have experienced Princess first hand. We can also say that we have had comparable enjoyable cruises on Carnival and Royal Caribbean and will continue to cruise with all three lines depending on the price and itinerary in the future! Read Less
Sail Date February 2004
This was our 6th Princess cruise, we are from So. California and booked the cruise last October. We had our first mini-suite which we loved especially the bathroom with the tub/shower. Much more room for showering. I did take a bath one ... Read More
This was our 6th Princess cruise, we are from So. California and booked the cruise last October. We had our first mini-suite which we loved especially the bathroom with the tub/shower. Much more room for showering. I did take a bath one day and it was very nice. We didn't mind the balcony exposed. We wanted warm balmy sunny days, but instead were greeted with an unusual cold front. We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale and it was 47' at 6:00 PM. We stayed at the Sheraton Airport which was fine, just ate dinner and went to bed. Saturday it was also cold and windy, got to Pt. Everglades at 11:00 and were in the line for about 1/2 hour before they started letting everyone in. We were Platinum and the line was about a 5 minute wait, and on to the ship. The sun broke out a little bit but the wind was the problem. The seas were quite rough and very windy until we reached St. Maarten. We took a tour of the island and than did a bit of window shopping, didn't much care for the island although the French side Marina was lovely. The ship was still rough and they had placed barf bags on all the ashtrays by the elevators, I guess alot of people were sick. We don't get seasick so we weren't bothered by the motion. One night they were doing 50's, 60's and 70's in Skywalkers and that was funny, you would be dancing and the ship would roll and so would all the dancers. One lady fell, I guess she was okay just got up and kept dancing. Our table for 8 in the Canaletto dining room was probably our best yet, we had early dining and all of our tablemates were wonderful. The waitress Agnes from Poland was amazing and we made sure to reward her with an extra tip at the end, along with a comment card. Slavo was the assistant waiter and he was from Slovakia I believe, very attentive. We made reservations at Sabatini's for French night, we don't like French food. The service was wonderful and we thought that we could never eat 16 courses but it isn't alot of food. The lobster was from Thailand and was the best I have ever tasted. I had two massages in the Spa that were just okay, they were out of seaweed so I couldn't get that treatment. I used the sauna 3 times and it was very relaxing. A comedian came on in St. Thomas, Sarge from NY and now LA. He was very funny and also played the piano, some people from Canada in front of us weren't to happy with his comedy though, he is very patriotic and made a couple of French jokes which offended some people in front of us. Our return flight didn't leave until 4:00 PM so we booked the Ft. Lauderdale 4 hour tour, which was a city tour and a ride on the Carrie B through the intercoastal, we saw the Golden again and I took more pictures and close ups of the balconys, also saw the Queen Mary 2 and took pictures. If you have any questions or want me to send the pictures just email me. Beth Mammano Read Less
Sail Date February 2004
This was my first cruise and I traveled without my husband and children for a real getaway. Just a girlfriend and I were looking to relax and enjoy a week without obligations. Let start by saying that I would have been happy no matter ... Read More
This was my first cruise and I traveled without my husband and children for a real getaway. Just a girlfriend and I were looking to relax and enjoy a week without obligations. Let start by saying that I would have been happy no matter where we went and that my expectations were low. A good book and some sun and down-time would have been enough to feel like a treat. I was very impressed with the organization and efficiency with which Princess handled the large number of people and the daunting task of maintaining the high level of security required these days. They were pleasant and accommodating every step of the way. ROOMS- People talk about the small rooms. It is true that they are generally smaller than the comparable hotel rooms would be. Ours was an outside double with balcony. We found that it had plenty of space for the storage of all our belongings as well as our general comfort. It was clean and well appointed.I even felt that if were to cruise again with princess, I would probably not bother to pay more for the mini-suite ( the next size up ) even if money wasn't an issue.A balcony, however, is a geat idea. We enjoyed having the slider open at night so we could sleep to the sounds of the water splashing around the ship as we cruised. Coffee on the balcony in the morning and a cocktail in the evening was a nice indulgence. The ship itself is beautiful. From the atrium and shops, to the pools, dining areas and various lounges, the decor is lovely and sparkling clean. It took a day or two to feel our way around but it was fun to keep discovering new areas. FOOD- The food was very good, although not 5-star. The horizon court buffet which stays open all day and I think all night ( I wasn't up in the wee hours of the morning to find out) provided a wide selection of dishes to suit most tastes and offered the convenience of being available whenever we just felt like grabbing a bite or when we didn't feel like going to the main dining rooms. We did the anytime dining option and could choose whether we wanted to brave sitting at a table of strangers or dine alone. Twice we sat with a group. Once we had a nice time with several couples and the other time we sat with a group that was pretty dull and mismatched. An obvious risk. We also ate at the Desert Rose which involves a surcharge. It was practically empty but the food was very good.In general the wait-staff was pleasant and efficient. Early in the cruise a bulletin was sent to all the rooms alerting us to a break-out of the Norwalk virus. Initially we were alarmed, but I have to say we were impressed with the way princess sprang into action to limit it's spread. Suddenly the situation changed in the buffet areas. Rather than being self-serve, they now had attendants at each station to serve you. They wore gloves and required us to rinse our hands with a disinfecting solution before entering the buffet. Being a medical person, I was relieved to see this because I know that this is just the kind of stringent approach required to stave off a wide spread outbreak of a very contagious virus. It did detract a little from the carefree atmosphere you want to associate with a vacation, but in all likelyhood it probably saved us from an otherwise miserable cruise. Apparently a few fellow passengers had been quarantined. I believe strongly that this immediate action on the part of Princess was commendable and apparently successful because that was the last we heard about the outbreak. POOLS- The pools were lovely and I noted that there was a wait-person available about every 3 minutes to serve up cocktails or sodas. You didn't have to wait or want for anything. People complain in the reviews about the practice of reserving chaise lounges around the pool areas even though this is expressly forbidden by the signs nearby. It is true that it could be difficult to find a chair during the prime times, but not impossible and only if you have to be right next to the pool. There are plenty of chairs in the sun all over the ship if you just check around. ACTIVITIES- There are numerous activities going on all around the ship all the time. Bingo was fun. Horse-racing was fun. I have to say though that the casino seemed to be less profitable than most. It's just my sense but, in my limited experience at Atlantic City and Foxwoods on the slots, the yield was a lot lower on the ship than usual. Others seemed to feel the same. The art auctions occurred every day but I have to say that after walking through the galleries just to peruse, I never saw such hideous paintings in my life. Somewhere along the lines of the famous poker playing dogs or a black velvet Elvis. I supposed they appealed to somebody though. We didn't do any shows but I heard they were good. THE ISLANDS- St. Maartens was great. We did a morning excursion called the Golden Eagle Out-Island Sail. It was a large catamaran that took us to Tantamar, a deserted island about a 45 minute sail from St. Maartens. The crew was great and a lot of fun. They served drinks and on the way back, sandwiches too. The snorkeling was very good and the crew went out on a dinghy to feed the fish and bring them our way. On the return trip they donned little black bowties to serve us champagne and even sang YMCA for us. They played great classic rock and roll songs ( Stones, Van Morrison, Buffet, Eagles) on the ride home which got everyone singing and made the atmosphere special. In the afternoon we shopped and bought some jewelry. All the jewelers negotiate price so hold out for your best deal. I strongly recommend Dynasty Jewelers. Ask for a man named Tinku. He was recommended to me by a friend who goes to St. Maartens several times a year and has gone there for years. He gave us a very good deal and offered us drinks while we waited to have our rings sized. Do your excursions in the morning and shop in the afternoon. Otherwise your morning will be rushed if you have to get back to the ship for 12:00 excursion and you can't shop anyway till about 9:00. St Thomas was ok. We shopped in the morning but only briefly since we did the ST. John's champagne sail in the afternoon. It wasn't as good as the Golden Eagle, but it was still nice. The snorkeling was good. The island itself seems to be deteriorating. The poverty is striking. Princess Cays was fun. It is pretty and offers water sports etc. They served us lunch at their grill which was dogs, chicken, burgers and some side dishes. Nothing special but certainly fine. THE SPA/FITNESS CENTER- We both had massages. My friend did the hot rock massage and I did the Lotus ritual. We each agreed they were the best massages we had ever had. The only drawback is that when it is over, they try to "recommend" (translation-sell) you all kinds of very expensive products that they try to convince you are a must for you particular skin needs. I hate that kind of pressure and resisted hard to avoid spending an extra $300 or so above the $210 plus tip that I already spent on the massage. The fitness center has a ton of great equipment. The treadmills, however, are in big demand and if you want one you should sign up for one ahead of time. I really enjoyed swimming against the current in the lap pool. It worked well and not as many people seemed to want it so I could always get it. THE STAFF-Our steward, Augie, was sweet, attentive, and a pleasure to see each day. The cruise director, Graham, is a very funny man and seems to enjoy his job thoroughly. I have to say that I've always liked the British style of humor and since a lot of the staff are British and seemed to like interjecting humor everywhere possible, it made the cruise that much better. Even the overhead announcements were funny. Be sure to tune in to channel 21 in the morning and watch Graham and Gavin go over the activities listed in the Patter each day. They are hysterical and add a few more details to help you understand your choices better. A downside to the staff is that even though gratuities are added in to your bill automatically , there is still that awkward moment after signing your receipt when they are clearly waiting for an additional tip over and above. I imagine this is not particular to Princess staff members per se, but I do resent it. If someone is especially good at their job, I don't mind supplementing the tips, but everyone seems to feel entitled. ONE REALLY BAD ASPECT- While overall the cruise was great I have to say that one thing nagged at us the whole time. Every step of the way, you feel as though you are being "nickled and dimed" for extra expenses that aren't included in your "all-inclusive package". Make no mistake about it. Your bill can nearly double during the trip without your even realizing it. A lot of things cost extra, including bottled water. Even though we bought a $22 package the first day that allegedly gave us unlimited sodas, it doesn't include bottled water and virgin drinks cost almost as much as ones with alcohol. All the activities like bingo, cost extra. Of course the daily gratuity that is added and the additional costs of excursions, massages, etc. add up.The shops on the Golden are a bit of a rip off, especially jewelry. Buy it on the islands where you can barter. The Princess shops don't barter. Room service is included but don't forget that your waiter will expect a tip. While standing at the pursers desk to go over my bill, everyone around me seemed to have racked up an additional $1000 or so during the week. Each of us amassed about $1200 in extra costs. Just be prepared. PASSENGERS- Well they weren't as old and doddering as I had heard cruise passengers could be. We had quite a few college-aged kids and families with children. The presence of children wasn't overwhelming and I would say the vast majority of people were about 35 to 55 yrs old. A good group I would say unless you are looking for a wild alcohol-guzzling spring break type of experience. You would probably be better off on Carnival cruise lines if thats what you want.( from what I've heard) Princess seems fairly classy yet not stuffy or boring. They did do some drinking games by the pool and had belly-flop contests etc. that were amusing. And again, they aren't afraid to have a sense of humor and poke fun at you or themselves. WOULD I DO IT AGAIN- Absolutely! And I think I might stick with Princess. The good far outweighed the bad and I can't help but think that Princess comes as close to being perfect as is humanly possible.I now can imagine all the things that could go wrong with a group this large and as I said earlier Princess does a beautiful job handling these types of situations. It is obvious the effort they put out to eliminate as many inconveniences as possible and to go the extra distance above and beyond the basics. This is what they claim to do and it shows. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
Our cruise on the Golden Princess was our 25th cruise so we do have a basis for comparison. Our cruise departed Ft Lauderdale on 3/13 and the destinations were St Martin, St Thomas and Princess Cay. Just prior to leaving on our cruise I ... Read More
Our cruise on the Golden Princess was our 25th cruise so we do have a basis for comparison. Our cruise departed Ft Lauderdale on 3/13 and the destinations were St Martin, St Thomas and Princess Cay. Just prior to leaving on our cruise I read a review on the Golden Princess which was written by a very unhappy cruiser who had sailed the same itinerary on 2/4/2004. Based on that review I was not looking forward to our cruise. That review was way off the mark. Our cruise on the Golden Princess was one of the best that we have in the 25 previous cruises we have taken. Starting at the begriming, embarkation was very smooth. We arrived at the port and within 30 minutes we were in our cabin. We had one of the mini-suites on the Dolphin deck. The cabin was well laid out, had plenty of room and had a balcony. If there was one thing that could have been improved, it was that the balcony did not have a cover so it was wide open to all of the cabins above us. This did not bother me, but did bother my wife. Our cabin attendant James was the best we have ever had. We had requested traditional dining, but there was a waiting list, so we did not get it and had personal choice dining. We were very happy with personal choice dining in the Donatello dining room. We had the a standing reservation each evening at 6:30pm at the same table. This permitted us to to get to the early show each evening. The operation of the Donatello dining room was the best that we have ever experienced. It was extremely professional (a five start dining experience). There was no interrupting our dinner while the dining room staff sang songs or paraded around the dining room with baked alaska. It has a real 5 star feel and the food choices, preparation and presentation were superb. Our waiter (Valentina) was superb. The entire dining room staff deserves a lot of credit. Next time we will request personal choice dining. The Lido provided excellent choices and again the food was very high quality for a cafeteria. The theater shows were not the best we have seen, but they were certainly better than most. We enjoyed the two musical groups that performed in the Wheelhouse Bar and the service was also excellent . Of course St Martin and St Thomas were great destinations. They are two of our favorites. We did not take any tours as we have been to both of these places many times. Princess Cay is beautifully done and a great place to just lay back and relax. Princess has done a great job with this island. It is better than most cruise line islands. Would we go on the Golden Princess again? You bet we would. We have cruised on many different cruise lines and ships and this one was among the very best. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
Just arrived home from our cruise on the Golden, wanted to post a review while everything was still fresh in my mind. We arranged our airfare on our own online through Spirit Airlines, we booked to leave on Friday March 19th. Our flight ... Read More
Just arrived home from our cruise on the Golden, wanted to post a review while everything was still fresh in my mind. We arranged our airfare on our own online through Spirit Airlines, we booked to leave on Friday March 19th. Our flight was supposed to leave at 7:20 AM, Chicago O'Hare to Fort Lauderdale, unfortunately, due to bad weather on the East Coast the day before, our flight was delayed and we didn't depart until 10:30 AM, we had arrived at the airport at 5:30 AM, we were disappointed that Spirit did not contact us to let us know about the delay, but all in all, it wasn't too bad waiting, after all, I was going on a cruise! They did provide all the waiting passengers, free snacks and drinks. The flight was smooth and uneventful, landed in Fort Lauderdale at 2:30 PM. We had booked our hotel through Priceline and stayed at the Holiday Inn Fort Lauderdale Beach. This hotel is directly across the street from the ocean, we traveled during the peak season of Spring Break so traffic from the Airport to the hotel was horrendous, traffic was stop and go all the way. After checking in, we went to check out our room, we had requested a nonsmoking room with 2 double beds, this is what we received, this room did have a nice view of the ocean, too bad we could not open the windows to let the fresh sea air into the room. This hotel was OK, room was clean, it's very basic and I'm glad we used Pricline and only paid $75.00, other guests at the hotel were paying $259.00 per night!! We ate breakfast at the restaurant, food was OK, but very expensive. We had arranged to be picked up at the hotel at 11:30 AM by a limo company, we used a limo instead of a taxi due to the 4 people and 8 pieces of luggage plus our carry ons, we would have had to take 2 taxis instead of 1. Driver was early, he arrived at 11:00, I was in the lobby waiting in line to check out when he arrived. Dear husband and my son brought the luggage down and helped the driver get it all into the limo, thankfully, the driver had a bungee cord so all the luggage was able to fit into the trunk and not in the car with us. We were finally on our way to begin our cruise! Arrived at Port Everglades at 11:45 AM, no traffic into the port at this time, there was a very long line waiting to enter the Princess Terminal, the doors were opened at Noon and embarkation took all of 10 minutes, we had express check in and were in our stateroom (BA balcony room Caribe deck #326) by 12:20 PM. My two teens had an inside cabin C328 right across the hall. Our room was adequate, the balcony was wonderful, because, we were on Caribe deck our balcony was deeper than other BA cabins. I would highly recommend a balcony cabin on this deck. Our Room Steward was Henry Yohanon from the Philippines, he took very good care of our cabins on this trip. We had planned a get together with fellow cruisers from the Cruise Critic Board, we met at the Tradewinds Bar on Sun deck #15, many of the posters showed up and we all had a fun time. It was wonderful to meet everybody and put faces with names. We also had a Sea Day Party from the Cruise Critic Board arranged for the first sea day at 3 PM. I had arranged in advance through my TA (thanks Lori & Jenn!!) to use Skywalkers Nightclub, asked for a bartender for a cash bar and I also ordered some munchies. Princess certainly shined here!! I was very impressed!! They made signs for our party, had a manager meet and greet all the guests, they had a bartender and waiters for us, the food was beautifully prepared and presented (and delicious!). Music was playing in the background as well. I did not expect all this, I just wanted a private place to meet with fellow Cruise Critics, Princess really helped make this party very special. Thanks Princess!! We ate breakfast through Room Service or Horizon Court, we did have one breakfast in the dining room. Lunches were mostly at Horizon, once in the dining room and a few times for pizza or burgers by the pool, OK pizza, it needed more cheese, burgers and knockwurst were surprisingly very good, fries and onion rings were excellent. Horizon buffet was OK, good selection, especially the fresh fruits and salads, some of the hot food was only warm, the food overall was very tasty. In the buffet, they have cleanser to wash your hands before you are handed your plate and eating utensils, I was glad to see this as I was a bit concerned about getting the Norovirus, happily, nobody came down with this virus during this voyage. The buffet was crowded during lunch, the staff onboard very, very polite and cleaned off the tables immediately. We had chosen Personal Choice dining and we were very pleased with this, no waiting except on the last formal night (lobster night), had to wait 45 minutes for a table, we didn't mind, we sat at the Lobby Bar and had a cocktail before our dinner. We usually ate at 6:00 or 6:30PM, we ate dinner a bit later on the second formal night (7:00PM), I think that's why we had to wait. I was very happy to learn that Princess has added more souffles to their dessert menu! They had hazelnut souffle, the harlequin souffle and one that had Grand Mariner, cannot remember the name, all were delicious. I also tried for the first time, the chilled peach soup, it was excellent. It's like having dessert in the middle of your meal. Dining room dinners were excellent! Never had a bad dinner, hubby said the fish dishes were cooked perfectly, service was very good as well. We did eat dinner at the Desert Rose, service and the food were excellent, the $8.00 cover charge included a Margarita. Unfortunately, Princess, is replacing this fine restaurant with a Sterling Steakhouse, when she is in dry dock. The ship itself is in great condition, everything was sparkling clean, there was always somebody cleaning, the crew was always very friendly and polite, I was always greeted with a smile. We had a total of 3 sea days, pools were busy but didn't see many chair hogs. Princess now has little signs that are stuck on the back of the lounge chairs stating that if you are not occupying the chair for 30 minutes, your belongings can be taken off the chair and put into the lost and found. On Thursday, the last sea day, all the pools were closed, this was due to very rough seas, the water was sloshing right out of the pools. Didn't go to any of the production shows, I had already seen "Lights, Camera Action" previously, when I was on the Grand. We did see the Comedians "Sarge" and Stu Moss, both were very funny. We tried to see Bert Stratton, but it was always very crowded, his show was very popular. Did go to see the movies Master and Commander and The Last Samurai in the Princess Theater. Didn't go to the casino, but I heard the slots were very tight. I am a non-smoker and I was never bothered by cigarette smoke anywhere on the ship. We had 2 teens traveling with us, our daughter age 17 and son, age 16. They were both registered in the Teen Center, my son didn't use the Teen Center, my daughter did, she was a bit bored with it, but soon met other teens her age and she then had a blast. We didn't see her until dinner and immediately after, she left to be with her new found friends. We did one excursion through Princess on St. Maarten, we booked the Rhino Rider Tour, we did have a blast. One word of caution, this excursion should not be taken by somebody who has a bad back. The boats are flat bottomed, so after you ride over the wave, you do come crashing down and this does jar the back. They took us to Happy Bay a tiny beach for snorkeling, but due to the wind and high waves, we were unable to snorkel. Did a little shopping bought some chocolates from the Belgian Chocolate shop, these are THE best chocolates I have ever eaten!! We booked a tour with Godfrey on St. Thomas, he picked us up at the ship, then dropped us off downtown for shopping, picked us up again for an island tour, then you had your choice of stopping at Coki, Sapphire or Megans Point beaches for 2 hours of sunning, swimming or snorkeling. It was a wonderful tour and it only costs $20 per person. I would highly recommend his tour. We had a wonderful cruise. The only downside was the rough seas. I was seasick Sunday morning and on Thursday morning, thankfully, I was feeling poorly for a few hours, I had read someplace that if you are feeling sick, to eat slices of green apple, which I did and which actually made me feel better. I also took Bonine, but that made me feel very tired. Sorry, this is so long, if anybody has any questions, please feel free to e-mail me. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
Greetings: I'm just off the March 20th sailing of the Golden Princess to St. Martin, St. Thomas and Princess Cay. I'm going to summarize my experience, and then go into details towards the bottom. Summary: This is my second ... Read More
Greetings: I'm just off the March 20th sailing of the Golden Princess to St. Martin, St. Thomas and Princess Cay. I'm going to summarize my experience, and then go into details towards the bottom. Summary: This is my second cruise on Princess, and my third cruise overall. I would rate this cruise a 9 out of 10. I took .8 points for the food in Horizon Court, and 0.2 points for our wait staff at Dinner. I would definitely repeat this cruise on this boat. I would treat the day in St. Martin as an additional Sea Day, and I would make sure that I did not have table #252 in the Donatello dining room. I found that purchasing alcohol in St. Thomas at the AHRise store was cheaper than doing so on the boat, but if you only wanted a bottle or two, or were pressed for time, purchasing from Princess was very competitive. I found that for watches < $150, the shop on the boat was very competitive, and my wife purchased a set of earrings that were about the same as what she found in both St. Maartin and St. Thomas. The boat did not stock watches > $150, and the jewelry on board was pretty low end as well. I found that Princess was competitive on what they stocked, and you could find lower prices, but you would have to shop in stores that might give you second thoughts about quality. Top Side entertainment. This sailing had pretty lousy weather. Just about every night we averaged seas of 3-5 feet, and on both formal nights, the seas reached 7-10 feet. The stabilizers on the boat were terrific. However, things were a little dicey getting around, and the entire boat looked like it was drunk. Even the crew was having a rough time, so you know it was pretty bad. The bad weather made getting loungers kind of tough, because when the weather was clear, everyone wanted to be outside. All the loungers had signs stating that if the towel was left for > 30 minutes, then it would be removed. I did not do much sunbathing on the top deck as I used my balcony instead, so I can not attest as to whether or not the deck crew moved towels, but when I was up and about, I did see a lot of towels sun bathing on their own, and there seemed to be a lot of people looking for an empty seat. The boat seemed to have a younger mix on it than our sailing in April last year on the grand. There were much fewer "geezers" on board, and a lot more young adults. The ratio of humans versus idiots appeared to be about the same across all age groups. The thing I did notice is that there appeared to be a lot more smokers on this cruise. I had to wash my balcony furniture every morning because of all the ash on it, and I noticed a lot more smoking on the top deck. This last may have been that everyone was taking advantage of the sun when it was there, so all the smokers went outside when the rain stopped. Even so, I really notice smoke because of my lungs, and I was bothered very little by the smoke in the public spaces. Ports of Call: I took the Americas cup regatta excursion in St. Maartin. I think it was worth the $90, but we were actually on the boats for about 1hr 15 minutes, and "racing" for about 45. The rest of the time was shuttling to/from the boats, and then the forced stop at their store before returning to the boats. I'm not sure I would repeat this tour. I found very little in St. Martin of interest, the stores were expensive (for my type of things), and I did not find the store keepers easy to deal with, other than at Diamonds International. I have shopped Diamonds Int. on several Islands in the Caribbean and in Alaska, and their customer service is always outstanding. My wife and Mother-in-Law really liked the DI store at St. Martin, and got some great jewelry. Other than that however, the day was kind of a waste. We were back on the boat pretty early. Next time, we will treat the day as a Sea Day, and perhaps book hard-to-get appointments on the boat. No one in my group had excursions in St. Thomas. We took the $3 taxi to the shopping district, and had a pretty good time. We followed the store guidelines off the Princess recommend shopping list, and found good deals on Linens and Liquor. I found some great deals on watches, but I didn't want to spend $250 or more for a watch (I'm very hard on watches, I am a clutz), so I ended up purchasing an $85 watch on the boat that would have cost me about $150 in the US. I wanted to look for an MP3 player, but the electronics firms were packed full with 6 ships in port, and I was going to need a lot of help, so I gave up. I was tired from the Rocking and Rolling ship motion at night, and didn't have the energy to fight/stand and wait for a salesman. However, from the traffic that the stores were doing, a lot of people found good deals. When I returned to the boat, I saw a group of men delivering a 55 inch plasma TV to the Disney Magic...Where were the people going to put it in their stateroom, and how where they going to get it off the boat? In summary, I would recommend that if you are a beach person, do the beaches in St. Martin, and your shopping in St. Thomas. My wife found similar prices and items in St. Thomas to what she had purchased in St. Martin. I found that the AH Rise store in St. Thomas was about $1/bottle cheaper than the Princess store, and its selection was much better. This price got better because if you purchase the liquor in St. Thomas, you can purchase 4 liters from outside the island, and one Liter of local manufacturer. If you purchase on the boat, you can only purchase one Liter duty free. The duty on a 1L bottle is about $2, so if you purchase a lot, the difference could end up being $3/ bottle. However, I saved on average $8-15 / bottle to start with over the state mandated prices in NC, and if you only want a few bottles, with limited time, it certainly is easier to order from Princess. Dining: The dining is where Princess lost its points in my review. In general, I found the food served in any dining room to be terrific (breakfast, lunch, tea time and dinner). I found the food served in Horizon court to most likely be cold, and very heavily salted. On several mornings, I found the food I selected to be so salty I couldn't eat it, and had to try something else. I normally found something I liked, and for small snacks, I would try 5/6 things, and eventually got something I liked, but it was a much lower percentage of the time than when I was eating in the dining rooms. I ate a couple of breakfasts in the dining rooms, almost all the lunches, and all of the dinners. I was very adventurous in my choices, and most of the time had to stop myself eating a certain item because I knew that I had several more courses coming up. The couple of times I didn't clutz something it was because of the combination I had chosen, not because of preparation. I guess I should caveat that with the words "almost everytime". (more later). My last review of the Grand complained about long waits to get in personal choice seating. I did not see it this time. Last time it was not uncommon to see loads of people wandering around the shops with pagers waiting for tables. This time I saw very few people with pagers. We had late traditional seating, and ended up with table #252 (table for 8). Our table mates were outstanding, and because of them, we were able to handle the service issues we experienced without noticing. The first issue was with the table. This table is the only table in the dining room with a concave space in the ceiling above it. The effect of this decoration was that our table was so noisy that we had to shout to be heard by our table mates. The concave shape captured all the noise in the dining room and focused it down at our table. You could walk up to the table, and be fine, and as you stepped up to get your seat, the noise became amplified. I did an experiment, and leaned back in my seat so that my head was outside the circle, and the noise level dropped incredibly. The second issue was with our wait staff at Dinner. Very nice people, tried very hard, but their organization was off. Our table would often be the first ones completely seated in the dining room, but the three tables that our waiter served were always among the last tables to finish. It was not unusual for everyone to finish a course and then wait 10-15 minutes for the next course to show up. However, we were enjoying ourselves so much, that we didnMartMartinnd, other than the fact that we didn't finish dinner until 10:30 most every night. It turns out our waiter had just gotten promoted, and was having command issues. It didn't really bother anyone until the last night. The last night was the "Baked Alaska Parade". Thus, this gets presented when the first tables are finishing up. The wait staff was so rushed trying to get us ready for dessert "on time", that they spent very little time at the table. I made a bad choice for my soup course, and my seafood pasta main dish was cold. Each time I tried to ask my waiter for something different, he was busy doing something else, and by the time I got his attention, the rest of my table was finished with their dinners, and the Baked Alaska was being served. In fairness to our waiter, I need to explain that every night I ordered one item from each category, and then only ate 1/3 to ½ of it because I wanted to be able to try lots of food without exploding. For the first 4 days, every time the waiter took my plate, he asked me if I liked the food, and if I wanted something different. Each time my answer was "No, food was great, there's just too much of it". Therefore, when we got to the final night, and he was very rushed, he didn't ask, and I wasn't able to get his attention over all the other noise/commotion in the dining room. We all talked about the issues, and no one wanted to complain because he was trying so hard and was so pleasant that we did not want to take the chance of getting him in trouble. Please note that these issues were limited to one waiter and one specific table. Every other waiter we had at lunch was perfect. Dining and Shows: Being that I was cruising with my inlaws and we are self-entertaining, we were not really concerned about going to see the shows, the following did not bother us too much, for others, it might be a concern. When we cruised NCL, the shows were set opposite dinner, so that if you had early seating, you went to a show that started at 8:30, late seating, your show started at 6:30. On the golden, the shows start at 8 and 10:30. If you are like me, up at 6:30 or 7 AM (even on vacation), going to see a show at 10:30 is just too late. I also noticed that the late shows were very full. I talked to several people that said that if you were not in place 20-30 minutes ahead of time, there were no seats available. This fact in combination of our "Waiter issue" would have ensured that we didn't see many shows. In all fairness, being that I wasn't dying to see any of the offered shows, I didn't deduct points for this, I thought that if someone did want to see the shows however, they might want to think about PC, early seating, or just make sure that they can stay up to see a show that ends around midnight. I did get to experience some entertainment while on the boat. The nautical themed bar on Deck 7 next to the photo gallery was really cool. They had a vast selection of martini's for $4.95, and some really good Jazz combo's. We started going for a pre-dinner drink any night that it was raining and we could not be on the balcony. At $5 for a martini, this was the best drink value on the boat. Rooms: We stayed on the same deck and same category as last year, but we thought that these rooms were better organized. The difference was that the shower was rotated from its location in the Grand. The result is that there was about an additional 3 feet of hanging closet space. Last year we had to put luggage under the bed because the closet was full. This year we had enough room to put the clothes in the hanging closet, along with the luggage. (We also brought fewer clothes, but that's another story) All in all, we all really enjoyed the trip. Last year on the Grand we had bad luck in table mates but outstanding weather so we ate on our balcony every night and had a ball. This year it was the opposite, and we had a ball. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
Our very first cruise, and my husband and I were excited. Finally, the day came to fly down to Ft. Lauderdale and hop on the boat! Even though we didn't have a clue what to do when I first booked this trip, by the time we set sail ... Read More
Our very first cruise, and my husband and I were excited. Finally, the day came to fly down to Ft. Lauderdale and hop on the boat! Even though we didn't have a clue what to do when I first booked this trip, by the time we set sail Princess had done an excellent job informing us just what to expect. Registering and boarding the ship was very well organized, and not difficult to figure out. We were on the ship within 15 minutes, and in our stateroom in another 15 minutes. So far, so good. WOW! What a view! Our cabin had a deck, so we immediately had to go see that - we even had a view into the fly bridge! With a map in hand, we ventured out to find our dining room. We had opted for fixed dining - which meant that we had a specific seating as well as dining companions and waiter. Richard isn't the most outgoing type, so we felt this would be a more enjoyable way to dine. We did have a little difficulty finding the dining room, since the center of the ship is closed to non-personnel, ended up arriving about 40 minutes late for dinner. The food was superb. Our dining companions were perfect for us. Our waiter, Arnulfo and his assistant Maria made us feel like we were the only table on the ship. The stateroom was spacious, lots of storage space for clothes, and very tasteful - I've seen some atrocious decorating in hotels (theme decor). Our steward, Eduardo, introduced himself to us as we were returning from dinner. From then on, our trip was like visiting family. The days spent at sea before reaching St. Martin were filled with laughter, sun, good food, and fantastic entertainment. Once on St. Martin, we wandered through streets and shops - can you believe McDonalds sells Heineken. We stayed on the Dutch side at a beach resort for the day (sun and surf - just the antidote for New England winters). St. Thomas was our next stop - we had to go through US Immigration once the ship docked in St. Thomas - whether you left the ship or not, and that was handled well, although I felt some of the seniors and handicapped could have been given some alternatives instead of standing in the line. Once off the boat, we took a bus/taxi tour of the island - going to the highest point, and then to Blackbeard's Castle where the tour ended. A quick ride and I was right where I wanted to be - shopping! Richard caught a taxi and went to the golf course - got right out on the course for a quick 9 holes and beat me back to the ship! Beautiful day. When the ship docked off Princess Cays (their private island), I took one look at the seas the tenders were going through and decided to stay on the boat. The channel looked a little too choppy for my taste. Found out that it wasn't that bad, but the day was overcast and very windy - a lot of folks came back quickly because they were cold. Last evening on board - the Baked Alaska parade was not to be missed - found out this is only in fixed seating - glad we got to see it. Disembarkation went rather smoothly, except for the usual people who want to stand in front of exits for 2 hours before being called to leave the ship. Princess has a very good system to keep the traffic flow smooth through this process, based on your flights out - first to fly, first off the ship, and so forth. Can't wait to go again! Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
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