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7 Princess Expedition Cruise Reviews

After a short flight from our home in Buenos Aires, we arrived in Valparaiso and joined the Star Princess. Our group consisted of 10 family members of which I am the only English speaking member. I have sailed with Princess before, so the ... Read More
After a short flight from our home in Buenos Aires, we arrived in Valparaiso and joined the Star Princess. Our group consisted of 10 family members of which I am the only English speaking member. I have sailed with Princess before, so the ship itself provided no surprises. One of the main reasons for picking this cruise was to visit the Argentinian cemetery on the Malvenas Island, otherwise known as the Falkland Islands. Unfortunately The Malvenas was cancelled and we were not able to pay our respects to family members lost. To say we were disappointed would be an understatement. Our cabins were sufficient, clean and comfortable, we did not spend much time in our rooms. The Cabin steward was friendly and made sure we had everything we needed. We found the food on the ship to be good in most cases. We utilized the Crown Grill and found the quality and service worthy of the $25.00 per person surcharge. In the afternoons we would grab a quick bite at the horizon buffet, and in general found the food decent with the exception of the black beans and rice which in no way represents typical South American food. Our dinners were taken in the Portofino dining room where we found the quality of food and service to be very good. With 4 sea days, we found ample activities to keep us busy. We enjoyed the port director, Joe May who supplied us with the Spanish translation of all the shopping and tours available in the upcoming ports. The Spanish culinary demonstration and the Spanish relaxation session by the hypnotist Fernandez were excellent. Our group did not attend the dance shows or comedians but loved Lovena Fox and the Spanish hypnotist show, especially since two members of our party were hypnotized on stage. I did notice however, that the shows were much shorter and would have preferred longer shows.30 Minutes is not long enough when you are enjoying great entertainment. Our most memorable excursion was to Punta Tomba, where we were able to walk through the Magellanic penguin's natural habitat and see them up close. We wanted to take a helicopter tour in Ushuaia, but found it extremely expensive as were most tours for a family of our size. We really appreciated the efforts of the Argentinian Assistant Cruise Director Matias, who was in charge of all of the Spanish events, he went above and beyond the call of duty to make our experience the best possible. Without him, we would have been lost as we barely saw the British Cruise Director. Disembarkation was extremely chaotic and unorganized and something that Princess Cruise lines needs to address and correct. It was every man for himself and left a bad taste in our mouths after a memorable cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
Let me start by saying we are loyal Crystal cruisers but Princess' itinerary attracted us, so we thought we'd give it a try. To compare Princess to Crystal would in no way be fair, so I'll try to be objective as possible. ... Read More
Let me start by saying we are loyal Crystal cruisers but Princess' itinerary attracted us, so we thought we'd give it a try. To compare Princess to Crystal would in no way be fair, so I'll try to be objective as possible. EMBARKATION: As easy as it gets. We got there early and once we checked in,we sat in a waiting area. Ruby Princess is a gigantic ship and with 3,080 passengers, we sailed full. Most of the nationalities were U.K., Spanish, Australian, Canadian and American along with a small contingent from the Phillipines. There were only 16 children on board and we hardly saw them. At 1:00 pm, we were allowed to board. CABIN: Our cabin was extremely small. One side of queen bed was pushed against the wall and we had a narrow L-shape to walk around. Cabin was divided by a long closet with shelf and hangers. Another narrow closet housed a cranky safe. Shower was very tiny. We shared one sink and a wide countertop. TV transmitted enough channels to satisfaction. Our steward, JORDAN, was really, really good. Although our requests were small, he made sure they were met and always wanted to do more. Great job, Jordan!!! FOOD: Food was good, not gourmet. We ate breakfast and lunch on top deck at Horizon court and we never felt cramped or crowded. On the days when excursions forced us to eat early, other couples at tables willingly let us share their table. We had anytime dining and I found that the desserts in the dining room were much better than Horizon Court. Horizon court offered many puddings, mousses (blech!), and always a fresh selection of fruits. Fabulous Fabbio is the maitre d' of the DaVinci dining room. He is very concerned about the quality of the service. If you have any complaints regarding DaVince, see Fabbio & he will resolve it right away. Trident Grill always served up hotdogs, hamburgers and fries. Pizza bar was pretty good. Soft serve ice cream was cold and tasteless. FORMAL NIGHTS: Ladies unless you already have formal eveningwear,don't go crazy for formal night. A nice pair of black slacks and pretty top will do the job and lighten your load. That's what most women wore, myself included. Most men wore a jacket and tie. I saw three tuxedos. SABITINI'S: Definately worth the cover charge. Husband & I had lobster 3 ways which was delicious and they also gave us a small portion of spaghetti with clams. Everything was good, the waiters were very attentive and the food was out of this world. ENTERTAINMENT: We both agree that Ruby has the best entertainment.I'd rather gamble than see shows so the first night he dragged me kicking and screaming. I was so impressed by the talent, I went almost every night. The dancers kicked and flipped and did things I didn't know were possible. Also the singers were very good. One night they had a second rate magician who was so lousy, I walked out. Don't miss the crew's talent show night. It was the best!!! Also, a salute to Broadway and Once Upon a Dream were beautiful. Each show is approx. 45 mins., so just as I was beginning to get antsy, it ended. Also DUO CLAUDIO perform mid-court around 8:00. They are acrobats that are so daring, you got to see them to believe it. Social director is Sam Hawkins from England. She bubbled over with cheeriness and enthusiasm. She did her job well.BEST THINGS: The Serenity Pool way up top prohibits children. It is a wonderful escape. I used it several times. Movies under the Stars is a delight. They give out blankets and we snuggled under the stars to watch the giant screen. Waiters come around with popcorn, pizza and ice cream. Another stroke of genius. If you go for a massage, ask for TASHA. She was absolutely amazing and did in one session what my chiropracter couldn't do in four. She's a petite woman with magic hands. I wanted to take her home with me. The Lotus Spa was beautiful. Unfortunately I didn't find that out until the trip was almost over. WORST THINGS: Didn't like the constant hawking of specialty drinks and photographers trying to get us to buy. One night our waiter asked us three times if we wanted the specialty drink! It became annoying. Also, next time I will do more research on cabins before I book. Now we realize that it would have been worth the extra $$$ to upgrade, but being first time Princess cruisers, we didn't know. Overall, I'd say Princess does a pretty good job of juggling 3,000 passengers and keeping things running smoothly. We didn't have any ugly situations or run-ins with rude passengers. The staff we encountered were courteous and friendly. They responded to our every request. In conclusion, we would definately sail Princess again if the itinerary were good. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
I will start by saying that we were really looking for a cruise to Europe but with flights so expensive to basically everywhere is Europe this summer when Princess dropped their prices to Alaska a few weeks ago, we decided to give it a ... Read More
I will start by saying that we were really looking for a cruise to Europe but with flights so expensive to basically everywhere is Europe this summer when Princess dropped their prices to Alaska a few weeks ago, we decided to give it a try. Neither of us had ever been to Alaska and yes, we both wanted to go but we were planning to wait a few years. However since we really wanted to go on a cruise...off we went. We flew into Anchorage Saturday night, embarkation was Monday. We stayed at the Embassy Suites in mid-town. Very nice hotel, close to a few places to eat and a grocery store with a liquor store if you want to carry on a couple of bottles of wine with you. They offered a free shuttle which we took advantage of to pick us up at the airport and to take us downtown. Breakfast was really good but the lines to eat were a bit crazy. Between all the people who acted like they have never eaten breakfast in a hotel before and only one person cooking omelets it was at best slow. Ultimately I think I would stay downtown if we did it again. Close to the market, restaurants, activities, etc. Embarkation went smooth. We opted to buy transfers from Alaska Cruise Transfer. Went smooth, they picked us up when they said, had some narration on the ride over, Whittier tunnel was neat to see and all at half the price of the cruise ship transfer. We walked on the ship just after 3pm and everything was ready. Our bags showed up very soon after we got to our cabin. Cabin A306. Small but worked. To be fair we usually choose at least a mini suite as we like the space they provide. It was quiet had a covered balcony, was close to forward stairs and elevators. Very small shower but great water pressure. Cabin had enough storage and the refrig kept things pretty cool. Beds were horrible in our opinion. Hard...very hard. Oh yes, not one single towel animal either. We opted for the Horizon court the first night for supper, other than that we only ate breakfast at the buffet two other days and that was it for the buffet. Not that it was bad, we just didn't eat there much. We went to the welcome aboard show the first night, in fact we basically went to all of the shows that were offered. Sarge the comedian, the illusionist, the hypnotist, and production show Motor City. Yep we went, but basically thought they were all very unimaginative. After looking at scenery all day and having basically nothing else happening on the ship we went for lack of something better. In fact it was very strange. I don't know if it was the type of crowds that generally go on this cruise or what, but there was not a lot of activities to choose from. Stuart the cruise director did not seem to be engaged in the passengers at all. Hubbard Glacier did not get visited due to weather and too much ice. Glacier Bay was nice and we saw a few glaciers, whales, dolphins, birds. Basically everything you were supposed to see. Commentary from park ranger was fine. Skagway was an okay stop. We chose to ride the train which was a very nice ride with a lot scenery but looking back at 119 dollars each it was pretty high priced. I would recommend finding something to do that takes you out of town as there isn't much there and you can pretty much see walk it quick. Would also be a good day to see it and then head back to the ship for a massage. We enjoyed Juneau. We bought through the cruise ship the Taku River Lodge and flightseeing excursion. Fly in a float plane, see several glaciers from above, land on the Taku river, eat fresh grilled salmon, experience a historical lodge, fly back to Juneau. If you are wanting to see some whales this is a good stop to sign up for some whale watching as well. Ketchikan was our only really rainy day. Other days had a little bit of drizzle at times but also times when it was sunny (Hubbard Glacier day it was very thick fog). We walked around town a bit, did a little shopping, had lunch, bought some canned salmon, a t-shirt, etc. then back to the ship. You can easily walk to the salmon ladder and fish hatchery if you don't want to buy an excursion. The meals were good, they still had lobster tails one night in the main dining room. Most were the size of a jumbo prawn. We ate at the Bayou Steakhouse one night. Very good and a nice change from the main dining room. 5 extra dollars over the cover charge for a lobster tail but you got a great lobster tail for the money. Yes as other people said, they were always trying to take your picture. We didn't buy any but thought it was fun to let them take them and look at them later. I always have though if they would lover the price they would just about sell all the pictures they take. As it seems they must throw a lot of them away. Pub lunch occurred twice during the cruise and we went both times. Fish and Chips were very good. It was a great lunch that I don't think a lot of people knew about because it wasn't busy at all. We signed up for the ultimate ship tour. We enjoyed this very much. Three hours of going everywhere on the ship you can't normally enter. Bridge, Galley, Engineering, Laundry, etc. If you are interested in the "How" then this is a good tour. If you only care that things just get done and don't care about how it gets to that point, I wouldn't sign up for this. Disembarkation went very smooth. They do a great job and has to be one of the best we have experienced. Conclusion, this was our 9th cruise and 2nd with Princess (first on the Crown) and I would rank this toward the top of the bottom third (we are in our mid 30's). For Princess the Crown is still keeping them in the running with us for future cruises. We still have had much better experiences with RCI. We did get a relaxing vacation. I however was also in the mood for a great cruise ship experience and what we really got was a great tour of Alaska instead. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Introduction A friend and I were on the Emerald Princess for its Southern Caribbean Cruise from September 29 to 8 October 2010 out of Ft. Lauderdale with Ports of Call at Princess Caye, Bahamas; St. Thomas, USVI; Dominica; Grenada; ... Read More
Introduction A friend and I were on the Emerald Princess for its Southern Caribbean Cruise from September 29 to 8 October 2010 out of Ft. Lauderdale with Ports of Call at Princess Caye, Bahamas; St. Thomas, USVI; Dominica; Grenada; Bonaire and Aruba. I am a 55 year old male and my friend is a 48 year old female from Mexico that speaks little English. We are new to cruising with only one other seven day cruise on Carnival Conquest out of Galveston in May of this year. Arrival We flew from Dallas/Ft. Worth to Ft. Lauderdale, arriving at 3:30 p.m. on the 28, a day before the scheduled cruise departure because I no longer trust the airlines. Flight was uneventful. I had done quite a bit of research on Ft. Lauderdale, the location of the cruise terminal and hotels and other amenities in the area of the cruise terminal. The cruise terminal is very close to Ft. Lauderdale International Airport and about a 15 minute taxi cab ride from the airport which costs $12. Departure Port Hotel We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express at 1500 SE 17th Street Causeway, 954.728.2577. I had booked the hotel about a month before our stay and had no trouble with getting a room. The hotel was fairly new, comfortable and moderately priced at 109.89 with taxes. It is two blocks west of a Walgreens if you need any last minute items for the cruise and there are a number of shops and restaurants in the area, as well as a number of hotel choices. Best of all it was only an $8 taxi ride to the cruise terminal from the hotel. We had dinner at Kellys Landing, 1305 Southeast 17th Street, without reservations and the food was outstanding and the service excellent. It is an Irish Pub with an excellent seafood menu. Coming from Texas, the seafood was a great change of pace from BBQ and Mexican food! Embarkation Process The next day we slept in and headed to the cruise terminal at 11:30 a.m. which took only ten minutes from the hotel. There were many people already there and I wished I had gotten there two hours earlier to beat the rush. Princess says to be there at noon on the day of embarkation. The process went very smoothly. I had filled out all forms immigration and boarding pass - before the cruise on-line. After going through security, we were given a colored piece of plastic and you could only go to a service desk when your color was called. We waited for about ten minutes before our color was called and preceded to the service desk and waited in line for about 15 minutes to get our Cruise Cards, and then preceded to another line to board this ship. From the time we arrived at the cruise terminal to the time we had our pictures taken on the cruise ship and were free to explore took about an hour and fifteen minutes, but keep in mind we did arrive early. We were very impressed after experiencing the Carnival boarding process. First Hours As soon as we boarded the ship we went to our stateroom. Before entering, I saw our stateroom steward, Fernando, in the hall and introduced myself and asked for a couple of ashtrays as my friend and I are both smokers. He proceeded to tell us that smoking was not allowed in the stateroom or on the balconies, but that he would look the other way if we smoked in the bathroom. I had checked out Princesses smoking policy on-line before booking the trip and again verified the policy with the Princess travel agent that took my reservation and booking. Needless to say, I went ballistic with Fernando. Fortunately, there was another steward in the hall that overheard our conversation and corrected Fernando by telling him the new policy of no smoking in staterooms and balconies did not take effect until 15 January 2012. This was not the way I had hoped to start off my cruise and left me very angry. Smoking Policy Princesss smoking policy states, Clearly marked Designated Smoking Areas are available onboard and include a sufficient number of ashtrays that are emptied regularly. Smoking areas were NOT clearly marked. Ashtrays were the only indicator as to where a smoking area was located. After my confrontation with Fernando, I asked three people at the service desk over a two day period to explain their smoking policy and provide me with a map of the designated smoking areas. I also asked three uniformed crew members and no two answers were the same. The only consistent answer I received was smoking was allowed on the Port side of the ship, but when I lit up there, other passengers complained and of course there were no signs or ashtrays to be found anywhere on the port side of the ship. When I tried to smoke in Skywalker Lounge, one of the areas of the ship where crew said I could smoke, smoking was only allowed on the starboard side and I know I offended some people who were on the Port side of the ship. I am a considerate smoker, but was extremely frustrated as I could never understand where smoking was allowed. I counted only 80 seats in public smoking areas (36 by Neptunes Reef Pool; 16 Speakeasy Cigar Lounge; 28 Horizon Terrace). I never did figure out whether Skywalker Lounge was smoking or not. In the day there were no ashtrays. At night, there were ashtrays on tables. And no one could tell me the policy. Its hard to be a respectful smoker when none of the crew could answer policy questions! The Ship The ship was big, laid out well, and never seemed crowded, even in the dining areas. My only complaint was on the Lido Deck by Neptunes Reef Pool there were structural steel members and tables and chairs making a very narrow corridor for those walking. It seemed like one in seven people on board were in wheel chairs or other mobility devices and if you got behind one of these, traffic jams occurred. The tables and chairs along the port and starboard side around Neptunes Pool should be removed to aid in wider and better pedestrian walk ways. I consider this a serious safety hazard in an emergency. Stateroom Although I had requested on my Special Requests form on-line I wanted two twin beds and not a queen, the queen bed had not been prepared as requested. When our steward broke the bed apart, he removed all linens and mattress pads and stuck them under each of the now separated twin beds allowing little room for our suite cases. After three days of tripping on my luggage protruding from under the bed, I tossed all of the bedding out in the hall and it magically disappeared. My twin bed had no mattress cover and was very uncomfortable. We were in Dolphin 115 (9115), a mini suite, and were three staterooms from the bow of the ship on the starboard side. We encountered small waves during the voyage and at night you could hear the waves slam into the ship and feel a shudder. I cant imagine what moderate to large waves would sound/feel like. I will never book a room that close to the bow for this reason. The balcony was good size with four chairs, but there was no ceiling and it was uncomfortable sitting outside when the sun was on that side of the ship. We also had like an island separating the beds from the small sitting area that I felt was wasted space. There were two TVs, one on each side of this island and the one remote controlled both TVs, so when youd try to turn the TV on or off, the other would come on or go off, too. Princess needs to automate their TV system so you can access your charges like almost all hotels do now. Dining Our seating for formal dining was for 8:15 p.m. in Botticellis. The food was good and the service was good, but it was very obvious the servers were overworked and it affected their attitudes. They were so busy and always in a rush that they never had time to be friendly and make you feel welcome. I blame this more on Princess and not the hard working staff. We dined in Botticellis for only three nights and then dined at Michelangelo for three nights and then in the Caf Caribe and Horizon Court the other nights. I thought the food was very good, but the service in the Caf Caribe and Horizon Court left much to be desired. One would load up with food and by the time the wait staff got to your table, took your drink order, and returned from the bar with a soda or other drink, you were almost finished with your meal. I just opted for the iced teas at the self-service bars. Orange juice in the morning was another ordeal. The wait staff would bring you this small 8 oz glass, filled to only five or six ounces, never to be seen again. When I asked for two glasses of OJ, the waiter said it was policy to bring only one juice at a time! And the coffee in Caf Caribe and Horizon Court just sucked. It was horrible! It had to be instant. Even though it bordered on putrid, I drank my fair share before I discovered the Calypso Coffee Bar on Deck 5. But at $2 to $6 a pop for a coffee or cappuccino, the costs added up. I do not understand why Princess would skimp on good coffee what a disappointment! Room service coffee and coffee in the dining rooms were very good. And I dont understand why they didnt have milk dispensers or cartoned milk or soda/juice fountains in the drink stations. I was not pleased with the drink accommodations on board. Of course, Princess does this for revenue. I am amazed at how Princess reaches into your pocket at every turn to make a quick buck. Talk about corporate greed on Wallstreet Princess is the epitome of profit maximization. If hotels can create all inclusive packages, why cant the cruise lines? Id easily pay more on the front end, rather than being nickeled and dimed every time I turned around. We really enjoyed the Pizza and Ice Cream Bar. The staff here were the friendliest on the entire ship. Kudos for the staff! The ice cream was good, but very rich. Carnival has a number of self-serve ice cream machines on the Conquest and their ice cream is yogurt which I enjoyed much more. Room service was OK but had a very limited selection of items. Two mornings we waited for room service way past the time we had designated on the cards we hung outside on the door the night before, and finally gave up and went to Caf Caribe or Horizon Court. I was very disappointed in room service compared to Carnivals room service. Kudos for Princess for having menus in other languages. My Mexican friend was very happy about that! Carnival only had menus in English. Soda Card I had purchased two soda packages at $11.75 each and was very dismayed when I found out the only diet soda you could get with the cards is Diet Coke! If you wanted Sprite Zero, you had to pay $2.00 a can! I spent several hours in ports trying to find any clear, diet soda and finally was able to buy some diet Mountain Dew in Bonaire, but this was another strike against Princess. I did, however, receive a full credit for each soda card at the end of the cruise, but never requested one. Not sure how that happened as I never complained or mentioned it to anyone. Entertainment Because my friend didt speak English, we didnt do too many of the Entertainment venues, however I did step in to the Beetles show for about ten minutes and it looked and sounded excellent. I very much enjoyed the String Quartet in the Piazza. We did attend a Big Band Concert, at least that was how it was billed in Princess Patter and the only Big Band Tune played was Moonlight Serenade, the very first song. Everything else was from the late 50s or 60s. Apparently, the band was not familiar with the era in which Big Band music was popular. I looked forward to this event all day and was very disappointed. Activities Because my friend doesnt speak English, we did not do many on-board activities. We did enjoy the swimming pools and hot tubs, but wished the ship had a water slide. I watched part of a movie at Movies under the Stars and wished I had seen more. It was really cool, but very loud. We didnt find too many good deals on board from a shopping perspective. They did hawk some neat T-Shirts but they all had Princess Cruises written on them and I wont be a walking billboard for any company. The perfume was priced the same as back home at Dillards. The jewelry was overpriced, but they did sell a lot of imitation stuff for cheap and my friend bought a lot of that. Shore Excursions 1. Princess Cayes One of the biggest tourist traps I have ever seen designed to get passengers to part with their dollars. All excursions were at least double the price of those in other ports. Princess hopes to cash in on your dollars by making this the first port of call on the cruise. Talk about corporate greed! I tried to take a picture of my friend in front of a plastic shark and was told I couldnt because the shark was private property. A Princess photographer would take your pic and try to sell it back to you for $25 bucks. Absolutely amazing. When I went to snap a pic of my friend in front of the shark, the lady photographer pushed (yes, pushed) my friend out of the way and stood in front of the shark to block the shot. Incredible! Absolutely incredible! 2. St. Thomas Castaway Girl Shipwreck Cove Sail and Snorkel. This was a great and inexpensive shore excursion. The crew and staff were more than friendly and helpful, plus they were happy. Not many of the crew and staff on Emerald Princess seemed genuinely happy. I would highly recommend this excursion. After the snorkel we taxied into Charlotte Amalie and went straight to AH Rise where I bought a Rolex watch. I dont think I got any kind of a deal, though, compared to anywhere else. Buyers beware. If you buy more than $1,600 in the Virgin Islands, it is subject to duty when you get back to the States. I had to pay $250 in duty for the Rolex. Had I bought it where I lived, the tax would have been $675, so I did save a little. For you smokers, AH Rise sells dirt cheap cigarettes. I paid $125 for five cartons, or a little under half the price per carton I pay in Texas. 3. Dominica Titou Gorge Swim and Hot Springs and Scenic Drive. This was another excursion I thought was well worth the money. At the Titou Gorge, you swim to a waterfall through steep canyon walls. I had my wallet and two cameras with me and did not want to leave them unattended, so we did not see the falls. The hot springs were awesome and I could have spent a couple of hours there very relaxing. (Left all valuables in the van this time.) We then shopped downtown and wasted about an hour trying to find clear, diet soda. 4. Grenada - Grand Etang Park, Ft. Frederick & Annadale Falls. Well worth the money. Ft. Frederick was like any other old fort but had excellent views of the island. Then we drove around the island and saw coco pods, passion fruit and breadfruit. We stopped in St. Andrew and I was able to buy 8 oz. of saffron for $4. Then we went up on a mountain and saw an extinct volcano crater good photo op. After the excursion we shopped downtown for a bit. 5. Bonaire I had not booked this in advance like all the other excursions and we were disappointed. We did a snorkeling cruise to Klien Bonaire dont have the exact name in front of me. We began at 3:30 p.m., sailed to Klien Bonaire and snorkeled. The lady in charge of the boat was a witch very bossy and not friendly at all. She treated my Mexican friend terribly to the point I had to tell her if she said another word to my friend, Id throw her overboard. She seemed to get the point. Skip this excursion. For years I have heard about how great Bonaire is for scuba and snorkeling, but we didnt see much of interest. Got back to the ship with just five minutes to spare. 6. Aruba I did the Certified Scuba Dive and it was excellent. Saw the Antilla ship wreck and a lot of wildlife and coral. My friend did the Snorkeling Cruise and Antilla Ship Wreck. She said it was a great experience. After the cruise were shopped in Aruba. We bought an underwater camera from the photo gallery for $23, and it seemed to work under water, but none of the pics came out. Im sure Princess bought these for $5 each and made a ton of money on faulty equipment. Disembarkation We had to be out of our staterooms at 8 am and were assigned to wait in the Windjammer Lounge until our group was called at 9:30 a.m. At 9:40 am our group was called and by 10:20 am we were off the ship, had our luggage and on our way to the airport by taxi. Princess really tries to get you to take their transfer to the airport for $18 per person. We took a cab for a total price to $12. Just one last attempt by Princess to separate you from your money. Dont fall for it. Overall Experience Overall, the cruise was very pleasant and we did enjoy ourselves. But several factors really detracted from the experience like the lack of a smoking policy, only one diet soda option on the soda card, the deplorable coffee, and not being able to get much to drink in Caf Caribe and Horizon Court. The ship was beautiful, the ports and islands were awesome, and most of the shore excursions were well worth the money. Overall, the staff were hard working folks, but seemed overworked and not happy. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Day One: Embarkation from Vancouver. Captain's announcement made it all sad and teary. Horizon Court food awesome. Ever changing dining options. Day Two: At sea. Children liked Kids Program, scavenger hunts... Not so many chair ... Read More
Day One: Embarkation from Vancouver. Captain's announcement made it all sad and teary. Horizon Court food awesome. Ever changing dining options. Day Two: At sea. Children liked Kids Program, scavenger hunts... Not so many chair hoggers, for it was chilly. Pool was heated to good temp. Day Three: Ketchikan. Highly suggest the ziplining excursions. Pricey, but worth it. So much fun. Day Four: Juneau. Sleepy Town, but lots of scenery. Day Five: Skagway. Very sleepy town, but friendly people. Lots of stores downtown to shop for souvenirs at cheap prices. Day Six: At sea. Same as always. However, children (crazy children) were in the pool, both. All day long. Day Seven: Last Day. Crew made embarkation very sad, though isn't that the way it is suppose to be? General: Really swift embarkation and disembarkation. Friendly crew from Indonesia and the Phillipines ( 99% of them). Except for the guy who served ice cream at the ice cream bar. Always seems irritated. Staterooms were very large with flat screen Tvs. Thanks for the chocolate! Helpful tips: Photos, worth their price. Promenade Deck large sweeping views Take advantage of Park Rangers on Alaskan Cruises Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
We had an inside cabin (Riviera 252)- having already done the balcony thing on the Eastern Caribbean. Stateroom was very nice, well laid out, and the bed was ready with an egg crate topper when we got on board, as we had pre-ordered / ... Read More
We had an inside cabin (Riviera 252)- having already done the balcony thing on the Eastern Caribbean. Stateroom was very nice, well laid out, and the bed was ready with an egg crate topper when we got on board, as we had pre-ordered / requested. Stateroom had a flat screen TV, which is a nice improvement over 3 years ago on the Caribbean Princess. TV channels during the cruise were adequate to keep inform of stateside news and sports as well as shipboard activities. Embarkation was delayed because of the ship coming in from the Baltic and USCG / Customs doing a bit of due diligence with the crew giving the ships first arrival in Port Everglades. At least, that was the explanation. Boarding began for everyone at 12:30 PM and we were assigned group # 3 and in our stateroom by 1:05 PM. I really like how Princess does the emergency drill by having passengers meet in designated areas (we were in the Princess Theatre) instead of lining the rails with the life jackets on. Fort Lauderdale was in the midst of an October heat wave (approx. 95 degrees when the EP departed) and it was much more comfortable inside than outside. We preferred the Horizon court breakfasts over the Main Dining Room (MDR), but split lunches between MDR, Horizon, and the Burger/Pizza bar. We always checked the menus posted outside the MDR before we went in for a meal to see if there were items we wanted to order. We also did the English Pub in the Wheelhouse bar and found it to be a nice diversion. Afternoon tea was fun with the strings playing, very enjoyable. The deserts in the Horizon Court for dinner were really plain. The dining room had much better deserts for dinner. In the evenings, we watched MUTS (Angels and Demons) and Football (being from Nashville, the Titans game sucked - but every Titans game has this season). The weather was great (but windy) so MUTS was full most evenings. They showed Star Trek, The Proposal among others. We also went to the see the Hypnotist show which was outstanding both evenings. The Princess Theater shows featured great musicians, but only marginal in regards to dancing and singing. The piano bar was fun as well sing a longs, etc Participated in the Art auctions and really enjoyed getting to know the art auctioneer / consultant onboard. Also was selected to do the Chef's Table, which was fantastic. Highly recommend you get your name on the list early for this outstanding evening of culinary adventures. Wifey got the coffee card and used about 1/3 of it. Good thing we get to keep it and use it again on our next cruise aboard the Ruby. Missed the "memo" about tips being auto charged to our account each day. Was stunned to see it on the bill when I previewed it the last sea day but when I realized what it was, I was ok. Next time, do not have to carry so much cash onboard for end of cruise. On board shopping was adequate, nothing out of the ordinary. Not a huge point, but now the cabin TVs got both ESPN and ESPN2. While at sea, ESPN2 becomes main ESPN at times (like Saturday for college football). Nice surprise. Internet was slow - at times, super slow, at other times, super frustrating slow. In summary, the main objective for us in this cruise was to relax, and that objective was accomplished in spades and diamonds! Thanks to the Sanctuary, the art gallery, and the Chef's Table event, this was a cruise we will not forget and we would cruise the EP next week if our employers would permit!!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
In March and April 2009 we spent 14 days on the Pacific Princess sailing across the Caribbean, down the East coast of South America, and up the Amazon River for 900 miles to Manaus, Brazil. We then backtracked for an additional 14 days to ... Read More
In March and April 2009 we spent 14 days on the Pacific Princess sailing across the Caribbean, down the East coast of South America, and up the Amazon River for 900 miles to Manaus, Brazil. We then backtracked for an additional 14 days to Ft Lauderdale, Florida. We got a great rate by purchasing a round trip cruise from Ft Lauderdale. The round trip was cheaper than going one-way to Manaus, flying back to Ft Lauderdale, and staying somewhere in Florida for 14 nights (we travel all the time, so if we were not on the ship we would be staying somewhere else). We are keen bird watchers and beach glass collectors. We selected this trip as a way of getting to some remote places we had not gone birding before. At 780 passengers, the Pacific Princess is smaller than other cruise ships we have been on, but actually not much different in terms of room size and ship layout, just fewer stairs to climb. We joined the private Spa and really enjoyed the enormous therapeutic hot tub and deck area in the front of the ship - all Non-Smoking!!! Our first stop was at St. Barth's (17.893N 62.864W) on March 30. We walked over to Shell Beach (17.893S 62.849W). Shell Beach is not too big and not too small, but has heaps of shells and beach glass - mostly whites, browns, and greens, but we did find a nice yellowish piece. We met two small lads from South Africa and had a quick chat with them. They were looking for Conch shells, but when we told them about beach glass, they began picking up pieces and bringing them back to us. The water was warm and beautiful. Many cruise passengers went swimming or snorkeling here. Near Shell Beach we saw an Antillean Crested Hummingbird, some Bananaquits, a Gray Kingbird, Greater Antillean Bullfinch, Pearly-eyed Thrasher, and several Zenaida Doves. From our balcony we could see Audubon Shearwaters, Brown Boobys, Brown Noddys, Magnificent Frigatebirds, and Royal Terns. With our spotting scope we could see five White-tailed Tropicbirds flying around a rock outcropping in the bay. NOTE: If you put the above Lat. Long. into Google Earth you can see the location I am describing. Usually, there are many pictures of the area. In Dominica on March 31 the Pacific Princess had a slight accident. While they were putting out the 4-inch lines to tie the ship to the dock, one of the lines fell into the water and somehow got caught in the propeller. Local divers spent the rest of the day cutting 120 ft of line away from the propeller. We had arranged to go bird watching with Bertrand Jno Baptiste, a.k.a. Dr Birdy, (drbirdy2@cwdom.dm). Bertrand is a supervisor in the Forestry Division and knows where to find the birds. Bertrand drove us up into the mountains to the Syndicate Nature Trail area (15.473N 61.355W). It was a nice day for birding. We saw all 4-hummingbird species on the island including the Blue-headed Hummingbird. We had good looks at a flock of Red-necked Parrots, and saw one of the much larger Imperial Parrots flying. Bertrand looked really hard to find us a Red-legged Thrush by a creek. All together, we saw 44 bird species today and heaps of interesting plants. The Pacific Princess made an unscheduled layover in Dominica tonight. On April Fools Day (April 1) we walked to the Roseau Botanical Garden (15.301S 61.381W). We enjoyed seeing all the little schoolgirls walking through the garden for PE Class with their teachers. They were all very well behaved and wearing uniforms (each class had their own hair ribbon). We took a long walk up a very steep hill to the Overlook, where the Cross you could see from the ship is located. The view from the top was gorgeous! While at the top, we noticed a yellow allamanda plant with a huge Plumeria Moth (Pseudosphinx tetrio Linnaeus) caterpillar on it. We saw 22 bird species on our unscheduled stay in Dominica including a Black-faced Grassquit, Caribbean Elaenia, Lesser Antillean Flycatcher, Nutmeg Mannikins, and a Scaly-breasted Thrasher. About 6pm three marine mechanic divers from Miami arrived by private jet to inspect the propeller. We could watch them from our balcony as they sat up their computer system for video taping the propeller and communicating with the diver in the water. About 9pm the Captain announced they had approval to proceed. We left about 10:30pm. We arrived in St. Lucia early on April 2. Due to the extra day in Dominica, we missed our bird guide Lyndon John (lynjohn1@yahoo.com). We went out to the tourism stand and got a private tour to a farm on Balata Rd in Castries (13.995S 60.983W); a.k.a. Lushan Country Life (www.lushancountrylife.com). Our guide at the farm could recognize most of the birds by their sound. We got good looks at a Black-whiskered Vireo, Green-throated Carib hummingbird, Lesser Antillean Saltator, and Mangrove Cuckoo. A pair of St. Lucia Pewees were perched outside a hut where they served local snacks. It ended up being a nice day as we got to see some local cultural, taste a lot of local fruits, saw 25 bird species, and added a couple of new birds to our life list. Due to the mishap in Dominica, the ship had to by-pass the island of Tobago. We arrived at Isle Royale, a.k.a. Devil's Island (5.283N 52.583W), in French Guiana about Noon on April 4. Fortunately, the ocean was calm today. Last year when we got here the Captain decided to keep on going due to rough seas (we were told that happens about half the times they try to come here). We got a tender boat to shore and walked a wet path around the lush NE end of the island. We saw some of the abandoned and dilapidated buildings that used to support the penal colony on an adjacent island. There were a surprising number of local people vacationing on the island, including teenagers, for a place with only one hotel/restaurant. We saw several South American birds including the Purple Honeycreeper, Blue-gray Tanager, McConnell's Flycatcher, Swallow-Tanager, White-necked Thrush, White-throated Kingbird, and Wing-barred Seedeater. There were heaps of Peacocks and Ring-necked Pheasants, along with many very large guinea pigs. We saw 11 bird species today. We had lots of sea and river days on this cruise. Too pass the time we joined the private Spa on deck 15 forward, so we could use the salt-water hot tub (they put in Dead Sea salt and other minerals). But, the hot tub is very hard on swimsuits. My wife wore out the two swimsuits she brought in the first 2 weeks of the trip and had to buy another swimsuit from the ship's store. The salt and chlorine in the pool seems to cause the fabric to stretch and dissolve. Only 16 people can join the Spa, but we were the only people there most of the time. The best part is that it is Smoke Free! Since it is located in the front of the ship, you get a great forward view - really helpful on the Amazon River. The Amazon River is so wide and powerful it is hard to tell where it starts and the Atlantic Ocean ends. The Captain said 100 miles from shore the water is still river water (no salt). The first thing you notice after entering the Amazon River is all the large mats of grass floating down stream. The locals say that as long as the river has big mats of grass floating down to the ocean, the river is still raising. Traveling up the Amazon on April 6 we saw 14 bird species from the ship including a King Vulture, Large-billed Tern, Lesser Kiskadee, Southern Lapwing, Wattled Jacana, and Yellow-billed Tern. The spotting scope was very handy here. We left our camera, binoculars and spotting scope on the balcony overnight covered with a towel. If you left them in the air-conditioned room they would fog-up when you took them outside. We spent 2 days getting to our first stop in Brazil. On the way we got our first (and last) Amazon Thunderstorm - a real downpour. We arrive in Santarem (pronounced San-ta-Rim) (2.414S 54.738W) on April 7. We took the shore excursion to see the Meeting of the Waters; i.e., where the Tapajos and Amazon Rivers meet. The Amazon is very muddy water and the Tapajos is dark blue. The rivers swirl around for several miles before the Amazon finally swallows up the Tapajos. You can see this sort of thing every time the ship passes one the 1100 tributaries of the Amazon - many of the tributaries are much larger that the Mississippi River. The shore trip continued to a backwater area that floods each year. The farmers here build their houses on stilts to try to stay above the water - sometimes they don't succeed. It was interesting to see gardens growing in canoes, and water buffalos foraging in flooded fields - they can eat grass with their head and most of their body submerged in water. We also stopped to fish for Piranhas with bloody meat. We didn't catch anything, but the fish got our bait twice. This area was full of locals in small canoes fishing. We saw a lot of birds on this trip including several Lesser Kiskadees (a smaller and duller version of the Great Kiskadees), a Rufescent Tiger-Heron, 3 Wattled Jacana (beautiful brown birds with yellow wings when they jump up in the air), Yellow-billed Terns, and spectacular Yellow-headed Caracaras. In the afternoon we walked to the floating fish market on the edge of the river. It is hard to believe everyone here doesn't die from eating fresh fish that has been left out in the sun and heat all day. We saw 29 bird species today including the Snail Kite, Oriole Blackbird, Orange-fronted Yellow-Finch, and Fork-tailed Flycatcher. On April 8 we heard Holler Monkeys along the riverbank; they sounded really loud and close. Later we stopped at a remote village called Boca da Valeria (2.454S 56.451W). Calling it a village is a stretch, but they did have a school and church. People come in by boat from miles around on cruise day to sell stuff and "guide" the tourists. We got an 18-year-old boy to guide us up the valley leading out of town. He didn't speak English but we made do. He did find a poison shiny green frog for us. We found several new bird species including a Rufous-breasted Hermit (hummingbird), a Forest Elaenia, and a Rusty-backed Spinetail. The river was full of large Ringed Kingfishers, and we saw one Amazon Kingfisher. We bought a necklace made out of "Cheeseburgers" (nuts) - later we realized it had a green bird feather on the end (it was probably a dyed chicken feather - anyhow, that is our story and we are sticking to it). The men of the area were giving one-hour canoe trip for $5 per person. We went out with 2 men and 2 little boys in a flat bottom boat with something that looks like a weed eater for a motor and propeller. We ended up giving the boys the stash of candy we had brought from the ship, i.e. the chocolate they give us each night. They liked it all but the dark chocolate - one boy spit it out and got a hand full of river water to wash his mouth out with. We saw many birds including an Agami Heron, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture (looks like a turkey vulture but with a yellow head), Red-crested Cardinal (called a Brazilian Cardinal in Maui and an Argentinean Cardinal in Argentina), a Rufescent Tiger-Heron, and Sharp-tailed Ibis. The highlight (or maybe the low point of the outing) was while we were paddling thru some trees and cattails we almost hit a hornet's nest head on. My wife briefly considered going overboard, but didn't. We saw 28 bird species today. On April 9 we reached Manaus (pronounced Ma- nouce), the Capital of the Amazon (3.139S 60.027W). The waterfront was densely packed with boats of all sizes. In the afternoon we took an expensive ($200 per person) shore trip down the river to the Amazon Village Resort (3.135S 60.482W). After some snacks, the resort had a staged walk thru the jungle. An older lady had a heat stroke and barely made it back to the resort. The resort had a fabulous dinner buffet - wonderful baked fish, fried cheese, chicken hearts (my wife thought they were fried too hard) and very ripe watermelon and papaya. This was the best part of the shore trip. After dark we went Cayman hunting in long canoes for a couple of hours. They caught a small Cayman, but we didn't think it was worth the time spent. We got back to the ship at Midnight. Passengers that were flying back to the U.S. on the Princess charter flight had to leave the ship at 4am on April 10 for their 6am flight. A couple we met on the cruise had arranged their own flight back to the U.S. They ended up spending all night at the airport so they could catch a 4am flight. We were really glad we had booked a round trip cruise! New embarking passengers started showing up around 8am, long before the rooms were ready. Some passengers had to stand out in the rain for a while before they could get on the ship. By afternoon, everyone was in their cabin. We wanted to wash clothes this morning, but the laundry mat didn't open at the scheduled time. After complaining to the front desk, they got someone to unlock the door. The story we got was someone wanted to conserve water since they have trouble converting the river water to drinking water here. We thought about walking into town in the afternoon, but it looked like rain, so we went to the Spa instead. There are no roads thru the Amazon - everything and everyone moves by boat. They have floating gas stations, hospitals, busses, and cattle yards. Their passenger boats don't have seats or beds; they use hammocks for sitting and sleeping, but they do provide meals. It was pretty interesting to watch from our balcony as laborers loaded and unloaded the intercity boats docked across the floating pier from our ship. We saw them carrying 150 lbs of onions on their back or 4 cases of empty beer bottles. Once we saw them take 1500 cases of empty beer bottles off of a boat that is their equivalent of our tractor-trailers. The dock here has to float because the river was already 65 ft above the normal low levels of October at the end of the Dry Season. This kind of fluctuation happens every year. They were expecting the river to keep rising for another 2 months (till June). On Saturday morning April 11 we walked to some parks in town (3.129S 60.024W) and stopped at the Opera House. There was a surprising number of birds around town including mobs of Kiskadees, Flycatchers, and Blue-gray Tanagers. At one point my wife was under attack by a Blue-tailed Emerald (hummingbird) that thought she was getting too close to her nest. Later we found the nest and actually saw the baby. We also saw a Buff-throated Saltator, Grassland Sparrow, Long-billed Gnatwren, and Yellow-browed Sparrow. We saw 33 bird species today. The town was jammed with people and vendors today (it might be that way everyday). We maneuvered by dead reckoning across town to the fish market. Sometimes we had to take detours to get around mobs of shoppers. Crossing the streets was a thrill - our strategy was to get lots of people between us and the oncoming traffic, and run when the local people couldn't contain them selves any longer and burst into the street. It wasn't pretty, but it worked. On Easter Sunday April 12 we were back to Boca da Valeria about Noon. Our Room Steward told us he collects the clothes that passengers throw away, has the ship's laundry wash them, and gives them to the local people in Boca. We donated some clothes to his pile. There were lots more local folks and kids in the village today than the first time we stopped here. We had two guides today, both young women with several children. Unfortunately, it had rained a lot and the trail up the valley was too muddy to walk. We bought some necklaces and a carved wooden bird plaque. We looked around for someone to take us on a boat trip. We picked out the best dress man. Unfortunately, he had a narrow canoe that was pretty wobbly, but there was no turning back because the boat driver didn't speak English. All he could saw was "Hello!", which he used whenever he wanted us to see a bird or Iguana. Our guide took us on a 30-minute track to his house - my wife was sure the canoe would capsize at any moment (but miraculously it didn't). At the house we were met by 2 boys (6 and 8 yrs old). I managed to get out of the front seat of the canoe, but my wife didn't fair so well - she partially fell into the river when she tried to use a board she saw by the river for support as she moved forward in the canoe. The guide got her back into the canoe and we dried off the binoculars (the binoculars were fine). The guide's wife put some salve on the scrapes on her leg. The boys were amazed by how close things looked using the binoculars. They couldn't speak English, but they motioned with their hands that the binoculars made things look closer. The family also had 2 young girls aged 2 and 4 yrs old. All the kids were well behaved; especially considering how isolated they were with no yard or TV. We saw 33 bird species today including Amazon Kingfishers, Cocoi Heron, and a Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle high in a tree that the guide had to work hard to get us to see. We also saw a Black-collared Hawk, Buff-necked Ibis, Comb Ducks, Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Least Grebe, Lesser Kiskadee, lots of Lesser Yellow-headed Vultures, a Limpkin, Red-crested Cardinal, Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Savanna Hawk, Sharp-tailed Ibis, some Short-tailed Parrots, Southern Caracara, Toco Toucan, and Yellow-rumped Cacique. Wattled Jacanas darted around the 5 ft diameter lily pad field. Back at the ship, we went to soak in the hot salty water at the Spa. On April 13 we were back in Santarem. We skipped the tours and walked into town by ourselves. The Main Street was partially flooded by rains since we were last here. It was hot and humid. We saw 31 bird species around the dock area including some Brown-chested Martins, Buff-breasted Wrens, Chestnut-capped Blackbirds, a Chimango Caracara, mobs of Lesser Yellow-headed Vultures, a Tepui Wrens, a White-collared Kite, some White-ringed Flycatchers, some White-thighed Swallows, and a White-throated Kingbird. We were dead tired when we got back to the ship. On our last day in Brazil (April 14) we crossed the Equator and passed thru the mouth of the Amazon River. We spent the day at the Spa, till an afternoon rainsquall hit. My wife started getting free Internet today after Princess changed their policy on how to count back-to-back cruises that are booked as one cruise. She is now a Platinum member of the Captain's Circle and gets $100 of free Internet on each cruise. The change seemingly affected lots of people on this cruise since 305 people booked a round trip cruise instead of a one-way cruise. We stopped eating in the Dining Room. It was OK coming down and we liked all the people, but half our group left in Manaus. Now we eat dinner in the Buffet with a couple from Nevada that was at our table before. The food is the same going back as we had coming down, which was not that good. By going to the buffet you could make your selection based upon appearance, which still did not always mean acceptable taste. They need new receipts, or a new chef, or something! We are usually asleep by 8:30pm. We don't go to the shows or clubs on the ship. Sometimes we stay up to see a movie we have heard about like Australia or Slumdog. We get up when it gets sunny out - normally 5am. This cruise is unusual in that they didn't change time as we traveled - we have been on Eastern time the whole trip even thought we have been up to 2 hours ahead of Eastern in some places - no problem. We try to go walking early in the morning. The top deck is too windy most of the time, so we walk around the hall on our floor - 9 times around is 2 miles. It is OK in the morning before the Stewards are in the hall with their carts. You had to walk fast past some rooms because they reeked of smoke. On April 15 we were back into the Atlantic, but so far ahead of schedule we just sat at 4 degrees north of the Equator most of the day. We spent the time watching Momma Mia on TV - the music sound track plays continuously in the Buffet area. The TV in the rooms has a channel that shows the ship's location and gives the lat. & long. It often didn't work very good. Sometimes it would show us going up the wrong river, or cruising thru dry land far away from the river, or would just stop working at all for hours. In Santarem, for example, we got very different lat. & longs. at the same dock going up and down the river. My lat. & longs. are based on being there and using Google Earth. We arrived back at Devil's Island on April 16 about 6am. It looked stormy and dark. We were on the first tender boat to shore. A few minutes later it started raining - we waited it out under a porch awning. Apparently there had been torrential rains here since we last visited. Several of the old stonewalls had partially collapsed. We wandered around the building complex looking at birds and made our way over to the hotel just before it started raining hard. My wife had a cup of real French coffee. We met some friends (Bill & Nancy) from the ship and walked over to where a band of monkeys hang out. Nancy had brought some bananas from the buffet with her to feed the monkeys. There was a dominant male that got a large part of the bananas, but amongst the smaller monkeys we noticed a female with a very small baby hanging on her back. Later we went to the "beach" by the warden's swimming hole. The beach was about 20 ft long and covered with shell and beach glass (mostly from old wine bottles). My wife picked up a couple lbs of beach glass - some pieces were so rounded they looked more like pebbles than beach glass. Last time we were here it must have been high tide because we didn't even see the "beach". We saw 30 bird species for the day including a Golden-headed Manakin, Purple Honeycreeper, Red-billed Toucan, and Chestnut-bellied Seed-Finch. At 2pm the Captain came on the PA system and told us there was an electrical problem with the propulsion system. A few hours later they had it fixed and we were off - just in time to see hundreds of Royal and Common Terns dive-bombing a school of fish. We arrived in Tobago (11.181N 60.737W) early on April 18. We met our bird guide David Rooks (rookstobago@yahoo.com) and his niece Gaby at the dock. David is getting pretty old and feeble. Earlier in his career he had been the bird guide for the Rothschild's and Prince Phillip - which got him a lunch with Queen Elizabeth. He was mentioned in a National Geographic article about Tobago in Feb 2008. We headed out in David's car. Our first stop was at a marsh (11.178N 60.804W) just outside town. David said Global Warming had messed up the seasons. This year they had just finished a wet "dry season", and were now into a dry "wet season". Not a lot of birds, but we did see a White-fringed Antwren, Pale-vented Pigeon, and Red-crowned Woodpecker. When we got thru the marsh we ended up at a beach where we saw hundreds of sea birds, including Bridled Terns. Our next stop was at the Tropical Gardens & Nature Reserve - a fancy name for a house with lots of bird feeders. Boy did they have birds and hummingbirds! - "if you feed them, they will come". The birds were spectacular, including a Bare-eyed Thrush (with a huge yellow eye), a Barred Antshrike (looked like a Zebra with alternating black and white stripes), a pair of White-lined Tanagers (all black except for a small white line), and mobs of hummingbirds whizzing around with exotic names like Black-throated Mango, Copper-rumped Hummingbird, Rufous-breasted Hermit, White-necked Jacobin, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, and Ruby-topaz Hummingbird - the most spectacular hummingbird we have ever seen. Our final stop was at Eleanor Alefounder's Wildlife Sanctuary (11.194N 60.791W). Eleanor had a 400-acre coconut plantation in a mountain valley. When she died she left the plantation to her birds, and her money to a Fund to feed her birds. David brings birders her to see courting Blue-backed Manakins. The males do a dance to attract a female. The males were too busy dancing to respond to David's whistles, but we did see a male and female fly off to a tree. Along the hike thru the valley we had a great view of a Blue-crowned Motmot (with balls on the end of its tail), a Palm Tanager, and a couple dozen Rufous-vented Chachalaca (from the turkey family). We saw 42 bird species today. On April 19 we arrived at St Lucia (14.014N 60.994W). Our birding guide Toussaint Adams (toussaintadams@yahoo.com), a.k.a. Adam, from the Forestry Division was waiting for us at the dock. We headed off for the Cul de Sac Wetland (13.990N 60.996W) where a Roseate Spoonbill had showed-up last year after a storm. It looked much whiter than any Spoonbill we had ever seen. We headed across the island in search of birds endemic to St Lucia. After several stops we found the extremely rare White-breasted Thrasher (only 600 left) and later a St. Lucia Black Finch (all black with pink legs). Adam took us up into the Quelisse Forest Reserve (13.925N 60.915W) where we saw some Black-whiskered Vireos, a Lesser Antillean Flycatcher, several St. Lucia Orioles, and a few St. Lucia Warblers. We saw 8 St. Lucia Parrots flying over the forest. Under a Mango tree we found a freshly eaten mango lying on the road, and up in the tree sat a St. Lucia Parrot. We drove to the south end of the island (13.711N 60.954W) to see Red-billed Tropicbirds; unfortunately, it started raining hard. When we got to the overlook where you can normally see the Tropicbirds, we couldn't even see the ocean, much less Tropicbirds. Part way down the mountain it stopped raining, so Adam turned around and headed back to the overlook. Even though there was still a light rain, it was clear enough that I could see 2 Red-billed Tropicbirds flying over the ocean. Driving back to the port, we got behind a car that was driving erratic. Finally, the car turned off our road. Soon afterwards, we found the last endemic for the day; actually, three Mangrove Cuckoos. We saw 49 birds today! On April 20 Bertrand Jno Baptiste, a.k.a. Dr Birdy, (drbirdy2@cwdom.dm) met us at the port in Dominica. We headed north to a cobblestone beach (15.356N 61.394W) were we found heaps of great colored beach glass. This place must have been a dump many years ago to generate this volume of high quality beach glass. My wife was self-actualizing as she filled up her pockets. We made a big loop thru central World Heritage area, stopping at Emerald Pool (15.398N 61.312W) where we saw a Jaco (Red-necked Parrot). Later we went for an impromptu walk in the rain forest while it was raining looking for Ruddy Quail-Doves - we didn't see any, but my water resistant watch got so wet the crystal clouded up with water drops and never recovered. We drove over to the Atlantic coast looking for Black Swifts. We didn't see any close enough to count. We stopped at some nice beach properties. One house had a piece of driftwood for the front door handle, and was enclosed with a rock wall lined with Irish Moss. We also stopped at the Jungle Bay Resort - it is very remote but has great hardwood floors. The road back to Roseau was steep and winding. The final segment of the road was lined for a few miles with multicolored wild Impatients. Wow!!! Without trying too hard today, we saw 42 bird species for the day. We arrived at St Bart on April 21. We walked over to the Shell Beach overlook. It was a lot dryer this time and hot. We spent 2.5 hrs looking for beach glass at Shell Beach. We ended up with about 10 lbs, including a beach glass "ring". The sun was so hot we drank 3 bottles of water. We spent the afternoon watching White-tailed Tropicbirds and a lone Red-billed Tropicbird flying around their nesting rocks off shore. We arrived back to Ft Lauderdale April 24, 2009. We enjoyed the sights and sounds of the Amazon. The birding trips we arranged with private guides were superb and a great value. Our balcony cabin and the private Spa were a plus for enjoying this trip. Princess still needs to address the issue of smoking in rooms and on balconies that adversely affects other people's enjoyment of the trip. Birding Summary: We saw 198 birds on the 28-day cruise. Date Observed Species Island 03/30/09 13 St Barts Location Species Seen 03/31/09 44 Dominica Boca da Valeria 45 04/01/09 22 Dominica Devil's Island 34 04/02/09 26 St Lucia Manaus 44 04/03/09 2 At Sea Dominica 53 04/04/09 13 Devil's Island Amazon river 14 04/06/09 16 Amazon River Santarem 41 04/07/09 30 Santarem St Barts 17 04/08/09 28 Boca da Valeria St Lucia 52 04/09/09 28 Manaus Tobago 41 04/10/09 3 Manaus Total 198 04/11/09 25 Manaus 04/12/09 33 Boca da Valeria Photo Species 73 04/13/09 31 Santarem Species seen w Guides 89 04/16/09 29 Devil's Island 04/18/09 44 Tobago Amazon 85 04/19/09 49 St Lucia DI & Tobago 71 04/20/09 42 Dominica Caribbean 80 04/21/09 15 St Barts 04/22/09 2 At Sea E-mail us if you would like a file on the birds we saw each day. Carl & Wilma Ball carlball@yahoo.com Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
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