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295 Princess First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

We received this cruise as a xmas present & weren't really sure what to expect. We are 35/40 with three children. Thank goodness for CC, they were able to answer all my question & more. I was able to get a great deal at ... Read More
We received this cruise as a xmas present & weren't really sure what to expect. We are 35/40 with three children. Thank goodness for CC, they were able to answer all my question & more. I was able to get a great deal at the Crown Plaza off Price Line. Very nice hotel, we were able to walk down the street to a nice mexican restaurant for our pre cruise dinner. The next morning before we headed to the port the shuttle driver ran us over to a store so we could pick up wine & a case of water (thanks CC for this great tip). Than we headed to the port. Easy boarding & went straight to our room C535. Small but was what we expected, clean & a great balcony. Plenty of storage, suit cases fit under the bed. We had requested an egg cate for the bed & i'm glad we did. Food was wonderful, we had anytime dinning since we tend to eat late, never had to wait for a table. Shore excursions- in Puerta Vallarta we did the zip lines. We had a great time! My hubby isn't to adventures but he really got into it. Mazatlon -Stone Island- Great day at Stone Island, right out the gates, turn left & walk to the end of the street. A couple bucks & a short boat ride. We spent the day sitting under our own cabana, sipping margaritas. My hubby rented a 4 wheeler & had a great time zooming up & down the beach. Cabo- we just walked around than headed back to the ship, wished we'd had more time. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Booked the Rodeway Airport/Cruiseport for the night prior to embarkation. Decent facility at a very fair price - $85/night included shuttle from airport and to cruiseport plus a very nice breakfast. Embarkation was very efficient - we ... Read More
Booked the Rodeway Airport/Cruiseport for the night prior to embarkation. Decent facility at a very fair price - $85/night included shuttle from airport and to cruiseport plus a very nice breakfast. Embarkation was very efficient - we were in our stateroom in under an hour from the time we arrived at the port. Baggage was slow to be delivered but with 3000 guests and therefore 6000+ bags, I can't complain. Food - we opted for anytime dining and LOVED it. The folks we met each lunch/dinner were friendly & talkative, from a variety of places and walks of life. I can't recall a single bad meal. Service was excellent. Breakfasts served in the dining room were a real treat. The International Cafe on the Plaza deck, just down from our stateroom was fabulous. The donuts, exp. the chocolate dipped, in the morning were heavenly. The $1.50 three-scoop gelato would have been a bargain at twice the price!! Service - our room steward Robert was attentive and efficient. Our favorite staff in the International Cafe - Nadiia and Roderick - were a joy. Entertainment - loved the comedians, esp. Troy Thirdgill, and Berte the piano man. Attended two of the main theatre shows and enjoyed them. The Movies Under The Stars were enjoyable - saw The Blind Side and Sherlock Holmes. Not so keen on the band Straight Up. Cabin - our outside cabin on port side of Deck 5 fully met our needs. Small but very functional. Great closet space. Great to have the mini-fridge. Had carried 2 bottles of white wine on board without problem and so was able to keep them chilled. Fitness Centre - made good use of the treadmills throughout the trip and my wife participated in several of the free classes - circuit training, morning stretch, etc. Disappointed that they charge $10 per for spin classes, yoga and pilates. IMHO these should be without charge. Formal nights - both my wife and I enjoy dressing for formal occassions so came prepared with tux, long gown, etc. Pleasantly surprised that there were so many like minded souls. My wife enjoyed the pouring the champagne pyramid on night 1 and the balloon drop/dancing on night 2 was great. Disembarkation - a very well run operation. Less than 1/2 hour from the time we showed up at our meeting spot until the time we were on shore with suitcases in hand. Shuttle to airport - pre purchased a shuttle coupon through the Rodeway Inn. Called the shuttle from a coutesy phone outside the terminal, it arrived in less than 15 minutes. One further stop to pick up folks disembarking from the Oasis of the Seas and then a short drive to the airport. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Our first cruise ever it was on the Diamond Princess for our 16 day Asia trip, Before the cruised we stayed 4 nights in China at the Novotel Peace Hotel which was very central and easy to get around. We were not sure when we made the ... Read More
Our first cruise ever it was on the Diamond Princess for our 16 day Asia trip, Before the cruised we stayed 4 nights in China at the Novotel Peace Hotel which was very central and easy to get around. We were not sure when we made the booking if the 16 days would be too many for our first cruise but it turned out that we could have done with more days. The trip to ship took about 2 and a half hours we had a personal driver who was very good and took us to the port and helped with our luggage. The wait to board the ship was only about 1 hour and went very smoothly Princess also had food and drink for all of us while we waited to embark which was nice as I think most of us were hungry and thirsty we did not expect this it was a nice touch, we arrived to our state room the luggage was already there which was great all we had to do was unpack and then explore this beautiful ship, we did leave port later than expected as some people were arriving late but it was nice just to sit on our balcony and take it all in . The ports that we called to were great and we loved them, the weather proved to be a problem with us not staying over night in Hong Kong but we were not worried by this as it was some thing that was beyond any one's control.all the entertainment was really good,especially the shows in princess theatre. We had a good time also doing a lot of the trivia days. There was always something to do with all the on board activities. The staff on the ship were really great and could not do enough for us and all the other passengers nothing was too much trouble for them the bar stewards were amazing 1 in particular (Elleute)each time he saw us he would come strait over and would know what we both drank and this was only on the second meeting with him he had remembered from the first time we had got a drink from him ( not that we are big drinkers)there was not a thing i could find fault with the staff or the cruise itself, The diamond Princess is a beautiful ship, Large in size but never crowed with people,even though our particular cruise was full not a spare cabin to be had 2600 people. We will cruise again with Princess for sure they know how to treat people .Also the food was the best we have come across in a long time of traveling ,the ship was beautifully maintained and constantly being maintained,painted,cleaned. Our room was better than we expected.The disembark was as smooth as when we embarked, there was also a 2 hour drive by bus which we arranged with princess to our hotel in Thailand we stayed at the Siam @Siam hotel in Thailand which was nice. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
My husband and I were the only novice cruisers out of our party of 10 aboard the Ruby Princess in March 2010 cruising the Eastern Caribbean (everyone else in our party had cruised at least four times previously on various five-star lines). ... Read More
My husband and I were the only novice cruisers out of our party of 10 aboard the Ruby Princess in March 2010 cruising the Eastern Caribbean (everyone else in our party had cruised at least four times previously on various five-star lines). Each of the 10 of us loved the entire experience. From beginning to end, the whole cruise went smoothly We didn't take any excursions offered by the ship and always made our own arrangement at each port, as recommended by our experienced co-travelers. This worked out well for us. The staff on the Ruby were all so friendly and efficient, especially our waitress for dinners - can't remember her name, but she gave the best service we have ever had - ever - in fact better than any 6-star restaurant we've gone to. She gave extra special personal attention and got to know our food preferences on an individual basis after only the second night, and was able to anticipate our needs/wants thereafter. The captain's voice was wonderful to hear each morning announcing the weather conditions and port description, and meeting him in person was a real pleasure since he is so very charming and friendly, and you can tell he is very proud of his beautiful ship. The ship itself is clean, organized, and never felt crowded. The food was wonderful - five-star for sure. The High-Tea was a highlight most afternoons (we got addicted to the fresh scones and creme fraiche). Even the pizzeria by the pool had the best pizza I'd tasted in years. I am 49 and my husband is 61. The reason we'd waited so long in the past to cruise was fear on my husband's part of being sea sick, but our first experience was so gentle that we wish we could have stayed on board for many more weeks or months!!!! It was so hard to leave. We would definitely cruise on the Ruby, and with Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
As our first cruise I was a little nervous of what to expect. The reviews of the grand, here, over the last few months have not been too good so I was worried that this choice of first cruise might have put me off for life! However, I ... Read More
As our first cruise I was a little nervous of what to expect. The reviews of the grand, here, over the last few months have not been too good so I was worried that this choice of first cruise might have put me off for life! However, I found none of what had been said to be true. The staff were extremely kind and curtious and spent extra time playing with my little boy - who was made welcome, not only by the staff but by the vast majority of the passengers too! The passengers as a whole seemed like an extremely friendly bunch and although most were somewhat older than us in age, they certainly were young in spirit. The ports - well if I never see another diamond's international it will be too soon but once you managed to get passed the sales terminals the ports led to some amazing countries. If you've never been to (or heard of for that matter) Grand Turk then it's definitely worth a trip - must be one of the most beautiful places that I have ever been to. Food.. was good generally and considering the numbers they have to cater for the food in the dining rooms was excellent - The buffet was similar most days but we certainly never went hungry. Accomodation - nothing to compare to but we had a balcony cabin on the Baja deck and it was fine. We had enough space for us and a toddler but couldn't imagine 4 adults sharing (which apparently they could do in that cabin.) But sitting on our balcony watching the flying fish leap out of the turquoise blue Caribbean sea is definitely one of the high lights of the vacation. My one criticism is of our room steward who was OK but didn't answer his pager (ever) which was a problem when we had an accident in our room and coke got spilt allover my baby's bedding - so we had a tired baby and no clean sheet to put him on and generally I found him a little annoying but certainly didn't ruin my otherwise fabulous holiday. Needless to say I will be cruising again (booked on the P and O Azura in Sept already) and this was a great introduction to this type of holiday.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
After all the planning, work outs, shopping, & anticipation, we finally met up by midnight at the LA hotel recommended by Tripadvisor & AAA. We might be 55 year olds but that night we were like college kids as we gathered & ... Read More
After all the planning, work outs, shopping, & anticipation, we finally met up by midnight at the LA hotel recommended by Tripadvisor & AAA. We might be 55 year olds but that night we were like college kids as we gathered & shared our excitement! We woke the day of departure; imagine our shock as we watched FOX News cover the tragedy of the Chilean earthquake. When they brought up the tsunami warning, we knew we were in for possible disappointment. This is when we knew we were right to buy trip insurance. I called Princess immediately & sat on hold until the rep told me that they had calls in to the authorities & would call us if the trip would be affected. We decided to hope for the best & go ahead with our embarkation plans. Our personal shuttle arrived at noon, graciously took us to our wine shop so we could stock up, & off we went to the LA Harbor. The baggage handlers along side the ship were so much fun -- thanks guys for your warm welcome! Our 3 first time cruisers were WOWED by their initial visual of the ship. The embarkation process was perfect, the best of the 3 cruise lines I've been on. In the waiting area, we watched the news as Princess made periodic announcements that the harbor was closed by the Coast Guard due to the tsunami. In my opinion, the waiting passengers handled the delay well. There may not have been enough seating for everyone but this never happened before so why would there be. We may have waited an hour before they made the happy announcement that the gangway had been lowered & embarkation had begun. The Sapphire Princess was the first ship out of the harbor once the Coast Guard made the decision. We 8 ladies went to the covered front of the ship to experience the trip out to open sea. We said a silent prayer for our neighbors in Chile. The remainder of the trip was a wonderfully normal cruise. The high points of the cruise were: 1. mini-suite balcony. We had two mini-suites & two interior cabins. It is worth the extra dollars to have the larger balcony when traveling with a group as we shared the space with our friends. If it were just my hubby & I, the regular balcony would be fine. 2. Princess allows celebratory wine/champagne to be brought on board. We were celebrating a pending retirement, a birthday & a graduation & Princess' understanding allowed us to celebrate together in our suite. This is why I recommend Princess above the other lines I've cruised. 3. The ship's size. Sapphire is the perfect size. Who wants to sail with 3000 passengers? We had no trouble finding deck chairs, outdoor seating for our Horizon Court breakfasts, lounge seats for the jewelry show, etc. I have zero desire to sail on any super sized cruise ships, even if the fare is less on them. 4. Our traditional dining experience. Traditional dining IS the cruise experience. You can go to a restaurant at home (freestyle dining), why would you do the same old thing on a cruise? I prefer the late seating because we have time to return from our excursions, get all gussied up, have a glass of wine & still make it to the table on time. We were blessed with the perfect waiters, Alan and Joel from the Philippines. (Alan is sacrificing time at home because he is putting his daughter through medical school). Every guest should get to know their waiters on a personal level; it so enhances the cruise experience! We know they see a new table of guests every week but the way they treated us made us feel like we were special every night. We tipped them very generously. Hello Alan and Joel! 5. Skywalker Lounge. We had along one daughter for whom this trip was her graduation gift She actually likes to be with us eve though some of us are old enough to be her grandma. We took her to the Skywalker Lounge every night so she could dance the night away &that she did. If some of the crew were up there they made it a point to dance with her a few times & we got out there to dance too.We helped her make wonderful life long memories. 6. Shipboard activities. Our group really enjoyed the dancing,exercising & entertainment opportunities on board the ship. We ended up in the ship's video more than once. The crew were full of energy, they appear everywhere &they work hard to make the days at sea fun. We really appreciated what they were doing for the passengers. If we suggested any improvements, they would be: A. the latte bar needs a selection of sugar free skinny latte choices. B. Revamp the nighttime entertainment. That's where we found fault. We thought the dance company costuming absolutely STUNK. Giant gold lame' stars on a man's shirt/pants? Come ON! Talk about emasculating a person. The costuming was circa 1970. The average age on the ship was 55. Hey, we're the baby boomers. The music too; how many years will we hear covers of 45 year old Neil Diamond songs? Let's get a little more current. They had talent but their creativity had been squashed. We stopped going to the shows because they were so sappy. The Island Princess (2008) had more current content. The ship group, the Babydolls, lead singer was not good either, but the thin singer was great. Loudness will not cover a substandard voice. We felt that the karaoke contests had much better voices so we went there whenever there was a performance. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
Both my wife and I have traveled extensively... I've been to more countries (49) but she's been to more continents and always picks on me about that little fact. I booked this cruise fairly affordably online (obstructed view) and ... Read More
Both my wife and I have traveled extensively... I've been to more countries (49) but she's been to more continents and always picks on me about that little fact. I booked this cruise fairly affordably online (obstructed view) and we loved every moment of it. Cons: the bed was a bit uncomfortable we could have eaten ourselves to death on amazing food which is a bit scary =) the amount of people on the ship can ruin these small little ports (but that's more of a jab at cruising than Princess) Pros: we LOVED the service! I was a bit upset initially that we were going to be charged automatically for tipping but about 2 days into the cruise the 10.50 pp felt like a bargain for the service we received. I also wondered why people would ever choose the traditional dining and opted for the anytime dining but ended up trying to eat at the same time and find the same servers haha. We just loved our waiters and didn't want to miss them on any given evening. We also met some new friends during the dining sessions. You can do as little or as much as you want to on the ship and that's exactly what we wanted for our honeymoon. I was initially skeptical about cruising in general after traveling all over the world on many trips, most often with a backpack on my back, but we ended up loving it. There weren't many children on this ship and most everyone seemed older (we are in our 20's) or newlyweds... which was perfectly fine with us. Getting on and off the ship were easy and everything just kind of worked the way it should. The food was outstanding and we loved lobster night. Overall, we loved it :) Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
Nightmare getting to San Juan when Atlanta ground to a halt by the threat of snow. Having flown from London it soon became obvious we would not get out of Atlanta. Drove to Miami - 11 hours in the rain, what joy. Will never opt for Delta ... Read More
Nightmare getting to San Juan when Atlanta ground to a halt by the threat of snow. Having flown from London it soon became obvious we would not get out of Atlanta. Drove to Miami - 11 hours in the rain, what joy. Will never opt for Delta again - rude unhelpful and downright useless. Arrived day late in San Juan totally bushed. Enjoyed Hilton Caribe although pricing is OTT. Next day embarkation was a breeze. After years of putting up with airline abuse this was a pleasure (almost). On board within 30 minutes. We had an aft balcony cabin on Baja. Wonderful location, adequate size, facilities OK. No obtrusive noise and little movement. Loved the sound and view of the wake. Just too relaxing. Steward (Rolando)first class - never intruded but everything was always spot on. Ship was clean and attractive. Crew ditto and helpful. Food was fine. Breakfast on the Balcony every day was great. Not too fussed about a cooked breakfast but tried it twice in the buffet and it seemed OK. Lunched when not ashore in Horizon/Caribe and enjoyed the choice and the lemonade. Evenings we did anytime, usually late, either on our own or sharing. Met some nice people this way. Tried Sabatinis which was disappointing and Chef's table which was not. Although the chefs table seems an expensive luxury it is not when you consider the wines and the goodies they include. Treated like a long lost friend by the Maitre d' thereafter. Shame they repeat the menus in the second week. Three out of seven menus are somewhat uninspired. Ports of call were all enjoyable. St Lucia and Barbados were our favourite. Recommend Roddy at Paynes Bay and his glass bottomed boat as a value way to swim with the turtles. Didn't watch entertainment much. Comedians OK. Dancing/singing shows abysmal. The enrichment program wasn't - enriching that is. Could do better (and should) but were we bothered. Overall fabulous holiday. The most relaxing, chilled two weeks ever. Will cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
As first time cruisers our excitement (and anxiety) was ever increasing as our sailaway date approached. Weeks (months?) earlier, we had arranged car parking at East Midlands airport and booked a night in a nearby hotel to make sure ... Read More
As first time cruisers our excitement (and anxiety) was ever increasing as our sailaway date approached. Weeks (months?) earlier, we had arranged car parking at East Midlands airport and booked a night in a nearby hotel to make sure everything went smoothly on the day. Then, with just three days to go, Princess contacted us. They had apparently 'overbooked' on our flight and were seeking volunteers to relocate to Gatwick. They immediately offered to reimburse our hotel and car parking charges, upgrade our flights to Premium Economy (both outbound and inbound) and dangled $250pp OBC before our eyes. The idea of driving to Gatwick, and particularly the drive home on our return, was daunting but the offer was too good to refuse and so we accepted. Princess' organisation was great and we were able to use our East Midlands 'Thomsonfly' tickets to board a Thomas Cook flight from Gatwick without any problems. I should add that, while the on board entertainment wasn't too good, Thomas Cook looked after us well and quickly got us into the holiday mood by plying us with complimentary drinks! We arrived in Barbados and stepped off the plane and straight onto a bus that whisked us off to the ship. We joined the fast moving queue to be checked in and were escorted aboard the Sea Princess. Just one negative here: we really don't want to be pulled aside for 'embarkation photos' when we look like we've been dragged through a hedge backward after a 9 hour flight. We were met by our cabin steward (Moises, who was great) and shown our "stateroom". The cabin was somewhat compact but it was very clean and functional with enough storage space to hold and hang everything. And we soon developed a 'passing places' system which allowed us to get from one side to the other without getting wedged against the furniture! We were keen to get cleaned up and start exploring the ship but PA announcements made it clear we wouldn't have time as we were to have muster drills 15 minutes later. Once that was over it seemed like time went into overdrive and we were soon on deck for the sailaway. A warm Caribbean evening, a glass of something cold, Barbados behind us and our first cruise ahead of us... bliss! It wasn't long before we were able to explore and were soon learned that what we called 'the pointy end' was the bow and that our cabin was on the port side and not 'on the left'. That did lead to some confusion when we were alongside in St. Lucia. I said we were facing 'to port' and my better half contradicted me to say we were facing 'out to sea'. Each evening your bed is turned back and adorned with chocolates and the 'Princess Patter', a news sheet containing information on the next day's destination and an entertainment schedule. We have read a lot of critical reviews of the entertainment on Sea Princess but we found it varies from 'average' to 'excellent'. The cruise director's staff lead some daytime activities (games and quizzes etc) and are very good at what they do. However, we found that occasionally an activity would be advertised but the staff didn't turn up for it. Perhaps they hadn't been told themselves? Obviously a communication breakdown somewhere along the line. It has to be said that daytime entertainment isn't what it could be. When you're in port and the majority of passengers are ashore then it's not a real problem but on sea days (we had two) then you can be left kicking your heels. Some people are happy to vegetate on a sun lounger all day so, if you're not quick enough in the morning, you'll never find a vacant one. The evening entertainment takes place in the Princess Theatre and the Vista Lounge. The resident singers and dance group put on a few very good shows. I'm sure these shows are repeated many times and, if you've seen them before they won't be as appealing but, to the first time cruiser at least, they provide an hour of reasonable entertainment. The guest performers included very average magicians, good comedians, very good musicians/singers and the excellent Kyle Esplin (if you ever get a chance to see him, take it!). When the show is over you can head for the Wheelhouse Bar or Crooner's Bar. Both of these feature live music from resident duos of varying quality - each to their own, I'll say no more. There is also the Monte Carlo casino, if you like that sort of thing, the Premier Cru champagne bar and the Razzmattazz night club. Like it or not, these three all have areas which allow smoking. Of course, before you take in a show, you have to eat and the Sea Princess has plenty to offer. Horizon Court offers buffet style self-service dining 24 hours a day with sea views. We had the occasional lunch here but found the food to be a bit hit and miss. It was often luke warm and not of the quality found in the main restaurants. Horizon Court is ideal for a salad or snack if you're out on deck but be warned - you may have to tolerate people in vests or swimming costumes at the next table and you run the risk of eating food others have handled! In the evening, part of the restaurant is screened off to become the Sterling Steakhouse. We planned on eating here but never actually got around to it. There is a $15pp cover charge for eating in the Sterling Steakhouse but I understand the steaks are among the best you can get and it's well worth the extra cost. Overlooking the swimming pools on deck is the Riviera Grill. I'm not entirely sure of the opening hours but this offers burgers, bratwurst, hot dogs etc. Again, it's OK for a light snack. The good thing is the food is served to you on a plate so it hasn't been touched by other passengers! At the top of the atrium is Cafe Corniche, an Italian style restaurant offering pasta dishes and pizzas. We used this for lunch a couple of times and the quality is very good. We saw people eating there at dinner time time and have no reason to think the evening quality was anything less than it was earlier in the day. The two main restaurants are the Traviata and the Rigoletto. These are identical in both appearance and menu. The only differences are the Traviata offers 'fixed seating' dining (same time, same table) and the Rigoletto offers 'Anytime' dining (eat when want to eat, sit at any table). We opted for the anytime dining in the Rigoletto and we couldn't find a single fault with the service or the food. The staff were brilliant. When the time was right they could be very chatty and entertaining but at all times they were polite, helpful, professional and efficient. First time cruisers please, please note that there is no additional charge for dining in either of these restaurants. They should be considered your first choice for dining but we have heard of people who ate every meal in the Horizon Court because they mistakenly thought there was a charge for eating in the restaurants. There isn't! With the exception of the Sterling Steakhouse there is no charge for dining on the Sea Princess. You have paid a lot of money for your cruise so sit back and let yourself be spoiled rotten at mealtimes! Another nice touch is 'afternoon tea'. At 3.30 the Traviata opens it's doors for refreshments. It's all very "British" with the string quartet playing quietly in the background and the waiters don their white gloves and serve delicate sandwiches, fancy cakes and cookies... and the most amazing scones with jam and cream! There is a charge for drinks however and a glass of wine or two with dinner each evening will soon add up. You would be best advised buying a bottle (it works out far cheaper). Even if you only have one glass from it, the staff will mark the label and put it away for you for the next night. Whether we like it or not, all drinks on the ship have an added 15% gratuity so it's easy to assume your drinks bill will quickly get out of control. In reality if you're not a big drinker and just want a few quiet drinks in the evening you'll pay around £6.50 - £7 for a couple of beers/lagers. When that's coming out of your OBC it's not a problem - but keep a regular eye on your account by asking for a statement at the purser's desk! As a side note, some people seem to believe you can't bring alcohol aboard. In fact you can't bring spirits aboard (though some do succeed in getting it on). You can bring a bottle of wine (per person) back from your shore visits so you can pick up a cheap bottle and put it in your cabin fridge - ideal for a pre-dinner drink! Those trips ashore can be expensive if you decide to buy Princess excursions in every port. We found it cheaper (and just as enjoyable) to do your own thing and pick up a tour with one of the many taxis/shuttles in port (be sure to only use the authorised taxi drivers that you find immediately at the gates and check and double check the price before you go). You'll find other passengers doing the same trip so you're never alone. Bear in mind though that this advice only really applies to 'island tour' type excursion. If you want to go diving/snorkelling/whale watching/swinging through tree tops then you probably won't find those tours being sold at the port gates and you may want to book with the ship to avoid disappointment. Princess were a little unfair when, three days before the cruise was due to end, Moises approached us to say he had been assigned to a different task and introduced us to his replacement, our new steward. We didn't catch his name but he wasn't a patch on Moises. Whereas we were greeted with a smile by Moises every day, we never saw his replacement again after that introduction and we were never happy with the standard of service over the next few days. All in all though, we found the Sea Princess to be a wonderful introduction to the world of cruising and would happily recommend her to other first timers. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
The Crown Princess is a beautiful ship that looks majestic in port and glamorously spotless on board. There are always people cleaning and ensuring that standards are upheld, from wiping down the underside of lounge chairs during the day ... Read More
The Crown Princess is a beautiful ship that looks majestic in port and glamorously spotless on board. There are always people cleaning and ensuring that standards are upheld, from wiping down the underside of lounge chairs during the day to polishing the stairs in the Piazza at 5am in the morning, the attention to detail is very impressive. Our cruise was Valentine's week and there was a romance summit onboard so there were several weddings and people renewing their vows onboard. I think this cruise was an excellent mixture of relaxation, delicious food and fun adventures. Embarkation Upon arrival at Fort Lauderdale (10.30am) we were issued with a boarding number so boarding could be done as quickly and efficiently as possible which ensured that controlled groups checked- in to avoid a 3000 passenger crush! We were given number 1 (which meant we were in the first 25 to arrive) and when it was time to check-in we headed for the Dolphin desk. We were issued with our cruise cards and our credit card was swiped again ready for our onboard account. Then after a quick photo in front of a Crown backdrop we headed onboard and had a headshot taken for the ship computer which was then checked every time we returned to the ship from a port. Embarkation started at 11.50am and by midday we in the DeVinci restaurant enjoying our first lunch onboard, having dropped off our hand luggage in our cabin. We were told that the restaurant wasn't open for cruisers unless they were B2B but we ignored that and went down anyway and the restaurant staff were lovely and treated us like VIPs. I got the Head waiter to try and get us on the Chef's table and he then called me across when he got the man with the waiting list on the phone, we were second on the list! Our cases were waiting for us outside our cabin after lunch so the $4 porter tip definitely did the trick! Mini-Suite We had a mini-suite on the Dolphin deck which was mid-ship and we loved it as we were never too far away from anywhere on the ship. There are six lifts mid-ship as opposed to two at the front and two at the back and we never heard any noise in the corridors from our cabin. We had an uncovered balcony with table and four chairs, a bath, a large sofa, two televisions, a safe, a fridge (where we chilled the champagne and wine we had brought on as this is permitted by Princess) and a queen size bed which was extremely comfortable. Our two large cases and flight bag fitted easily under the bed so you don't need to worry about where to put your suitcase in the cabin. The wardrobe had ample hangers and the mini-suite seemed generously spacious. We had good wi-fi connection and did all our postings in our cabin on our laptop rather than in the internet cafe. Avoid busy times as the internet speed varied considerably depending on what time of day it was. We tended to use it early in the morning for quickest speeds and benefitted from free minutes with the pre-paid internet package we purchased the week before. We asked our steward for bath robes and ice which were promptly delivered by the time we returned after sailaway. The room service was always very efficient and we enjoyed phoning up for tea, coffee, pastries and orange juice to start the day. We also made use of room service if we had been out on a port day and got back too late in the MDR lunch. There is something truly indulgent about tucking into lunch on your balcony in the Caribbean sun! We did a video tour of the cabin which you can see on: http://howarthfamily.smugmug.com/Other/Caribbean-Cruise/10862873_GvoHV#788229302_6fyKw-M-LB Main Dining Room Restaurants I fancied egg Benedict for breakfast one morning (we rarely get it in the UK) and it wasn't on the breakfast menu in the MDR so I asked our waiter if it would be possible to have it - yes of course was the reply. As Rob said, no doesn't seem to be part of the ship vocabulary they are so keen to make your holiday absolutely perfect. Afternoon tea has the best cup of tea you will get on the ship - which was served with finger sandwiches, scones and pastries. The scones are not as good as my Mum can make but the rest was fantastic. We liked the fact that the waiters wore gloves to pour the tea which helped give the afternoon tea a sense of occasion. We were Anytime Dining which worked really well. If one MDR has a long queue head straight to the other one as you will probably find a shorter queue (we did). We only had to wait for a table for 2, on the formal nights, apart from that we have always walked straight in. If you are prepared to share you will probably be seated earlier and you can book a specific time if you choose through the dine line, but we prefer to go with the flow (it is called Anytime for a reason!) and the little pagers they give you mean you are free to wander around, have more photos or sit and enjoy a drink while you are waiting. The food was delicious and consistently excellent throughout. For lunch on embarkation day I enjoyed prawns with melon, châteaubriand with Bearnaise sauce and chocolate soufflE. Other lunches included a spicy beef pot topped with puff pastry, steak sandwich and spaghetti carbonara. Whenever we had beef it was cooked exactly as requested even if it was slow roasted beef or Beef Wellington! We always felt spoilt for choice and were never disappointed with what we ordered. Our meals in the main dining room included lobster, scallops, Alaskan Salmon, Fish in a tomato and saffron sauce, filet mignon and pork medallions in a honey and mustard sauce. The menu in the evening consisted of a choice of appetisers (Fettuccini Alfredo was a favourite) then soup or salad, then a main course, then dessert. Whenever we had a problem it was dealt with so professionally that Princess went up again in our estimation, making everything perfect as they make you feel like you are the only diners in the restaurant - this is certainly service with a smile. Sabtini's Restaurant - $20 cover charge We decided to book a table at Sabitini's the Italian speciality restaurant for our final night. We both had a fabulous meal. You choose your soup, main and dessert and everything else is served to you automatically. The hot and cold appertisers are presented with silver service which means that it sometimes doesn't look as good on the plate as it would have done presented by the chef (so if you have seen photos of the hot and cold starter selection they may look as if they lack a bit of finesse). The main problem is trying to fit everything on the plate! The cold anti-pasti (served together) included proscuttio and melon, bresola, porticini mushrooms with garlic puree, shrimp and artichoke in truffle oil, anchovy, salad and parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes and red peppers. The hot anti-pasti included crab cake, calamari, ricotta cheese flan and courgette in a tomato sauce. We then had our soup (I had tomato and shellfish) followed by two pastas - I really liked the egg noodles in a mushroom veloute, tender asparagus baby spinach and fresh tomato, the other was a homemade potato and ricotta ravioli. For main I had lobster tail with lobster sauce and pumpkin risotto and Rob had Chilean sea bass with a whole grain mustard crust, lemon asparagus and a mustard green salad. For dessert I had an expresso crème brûlEe with star anise biscotti and armagnac foam and Rob had tiramisu. (cappicino / expresso coffees etc where complimentary) We felt that this meal was the perfect way to end our cruise. The restaurant is much quieter than the MDR and the meal lasts a good two hours from start to finish. As with all venues the drinks stickers are accepted in the restaurant. We have a video which you can see on: http://howarthfamily.smugmug.com/Oth...649_7JDDd-M-LB The Piazza This was one of my favourite areas on the ship. It is on decks 5, 6 and 7 which are linked by sweeping spiral staircases adding to the magnificence of the venue. It is here that you will find the International cafe, a real gem of the ship. It is open 24/7 for the best coffee and delights of the day. In the morning there is a large selection of croissants, muffins and Danish pastries by lunch there are salads, warm quiches and sandwiches and there is always a fabulous selection of cakes, desserts and patisserie tempting you between meals. I recommend the cookies and tiramisu which were both indulgently delicious. Also in the Piazza on deck 5 is Vines a wine bar serving tapas and sushi. All food served in the Piazza is complimentary apart from the speciality ice cream at the International Cafe. This is also where you will find the internet cafe. The Piazza is the place to meet friends or relax and enjoy the entertainment as there were musicians and artists who performed throughout the day and into the night. Entertainment The Princess Patters (the ship's daily newspaper) are delivered to your cabin each evening and they give you all the information you will need for the following day from what activities and shows are on, to information about tendering and the clocks on the ship changing to keep to local port times. With Princess you can certainly be as active or relaxed as you like. We used to plan our time like a military operation so as not to miss out on anything but it impossible to do everything. Activities during the day that we enjoyed included line-dancing, a make-up demonstration, a sushi, vegetable and fruit demonstation, ice carving, a putt putt competition (I won gold and Rob got silver for Great Britain, which was better than we did at the Olympics). Rob took part in a Valentine cake decorating competition and just missed out on winning but we then enjoyed the cake at dinner as they put it in one of the ship's fridges labelled with our cabin number. The comedy on the Crown was excellent. Kevin Hughes and Troy Thirdgill both did two different shows which we thoroughly enjoyed. We went to the 7pm show "Destination Anywhere" and it was absolutely superb. There are always at least two separate times for the main shows so it doesn't matter whether you are first or second sitting in Traditional Dining you will not miss out. "Destination Anywhere" had great dancing, costumes and singing. We really felt like we had been to a professional show. The Crown has seven different venues for entertainment in addition to the Princess Theatre, not to mention places such as the Adagio bar with a pianist, which works well at distributing the passengers so we never ever had a sense of just how many people were on the ship. We braved the Movies under the Stars once (it is fun snuggling up under a blanket on the sun loungers equipped with extra thick padded cushions at night) but the film was not to our taste and the popcorn was chewy and salted so we didn't stay for long! Chef's Table If I had to give one piece of advice from the entire cruise it would be to try and get on the chef's table if you love and appreciate food. I guarantee you won't be disappointed. It was $75 each and definitely worth every penny. Second piece of advice make sure you follow the advice of not eating much at all in the day. We all gathered at the International cafe at 7pm, and as we had already met for the health and safety briefing we already felt like we knew each other a bit. The Maitre D'hotel Francesco Ciorfido then escorted us up to Da Vinci dining room where we were given our white coats and led into the galley. In the galley you get an extensive explanation of how the food is organised and a complete tour. It was Italian night in the MDRs so all the waiters were dressed in Italian stripy t-shirts rather than the formal suits that they normally wear. Everyone was so friendly in the galley and seemed genuinely pleased that we were interested in seeing behind the scenes. We were then led through the galley to one area where the gastronomie began. We were each given a glass of champagne (constantly refilled) while we enjoyed the canapEs. Our first was Tuna tartar served on an oriental spoon which had been marinating in soy and ginger, delicious, next we had bistro mini quiche with fortini cheese and truffle which just melted in your mouth. Our third canapE was bistro vol-au-vent forestière with truffle oil, which was so light and our fourth canapE was a buckwheat blini with caviar and crème fraiche. The chef then left us in the safe hands of the Maitre D' so he could make our dinner. We gave back our white coats and were led back through the restaurant and down to the Michelangelo restaurant were a special table was waiting for us. The wine waiter then introduced the wine he had selected for the meal. The red was a robust 2004 vintage Cabernet Sauvignon (from Califorinia I think, called something Jackson) the white was a Pinot Grigio (I think) but I can't remember the details - just that it was light and delicious. We were given an appetiser (not listed on the menu) of beef carpaccio which was delicious. The executive chef Manlio Cuzzolin came to our table and introduced the risotto with lobster tail and claws which was divine. We were then served a bloody mary sorbet complete with a celery decoration and Manlio came round with a bottle of vodka which he then poured over the top. The waiters then removed the table decorations and bread baskets from the table ready for the theatre to begin! Manlio and his team then reappeared once more carrying huge medieval spiked flambE roasters which they laid down on the table behind us. They then poured over ladles and ladles of flames that looked truly spectacular. Another waiter carried out a huge paella shaped pan filled with lobsters - and that wasn't even on the menu! Our main course was Trio of beef, veal and pork tenderloin with jus, salsa verde, bEarnaise sauce and cafe de Paris butter (they were each in little sauce pots so you helped yourself to what you fancied) served with lobster on the side. This was accompanied with mashed potatoes (infused with the flambEed meat juices) with baby sweetcorn, cherry tomatoes, char grilled asparagus and charred premium vegetables. The wine and conversation just kept on flowing. We were lucky that everyone was so friendly and we all got on really well. Our cheese course was potted stilton with port wine reduction and walnuts and rosemary biscotti - I couldn't believe just how tasty it was and even Rob who is normally not keen on stilton cheese loved it. Our dessert was orange mousse with raspberry mango glaze which was served with a delicious dessert wine. The head pastry chef came out with Manlio for this and I asked him how long the dessert took him to make....five hours!!! The dessert was served on an edible sugar crafted plate which was so attractive. To complete the meal, we had coffee (or tea) with Manlio's homemade biscotti and amoretti. Manlio gave all the ladies a red rose and all the men a signed Princess cookbook (worth $49.95). We then had our photographs taken with Manlio and Francesco and another one with the entire group. These were delivered to our cabin the following day. We were the envy of the entire restaurant with the food and extra attention we were given - and several diners got up and took pictures of the medieval spiked flambE roaster. I thanked Manlio again while we were having our group picture taken and he said it was an absolute pleasure to cook for people who really appreciate his craft - we definitely got the impression that they really enjoyed the evening as well. This is truly an experience of a lifetime not to be missed! Rob has done a great job at capturing the evening in just over a minute on video which you can see on: http://howarthfamily.smugmug.com/Other/Caribbean-Cruise/10862873_GvoHV#789772110_TQPnm-M-LB Formal nights Our first formal night was on Valentine's day and ship was decorated with red and white balloons and an amazing selection of Valentine's cakes made by the pastry chefs for a display in the Piazza. There was a champagne waterfall in the Piazza and all the ladies were invited to help the Maitre D' pour wine into the top by standing on a small platform. The champagne waterfall was accompanied with complimentary glasses (yes in the plural) of champagne and canapEs. At the International cafe a waitress came and asked us what we wanted to drink and we said we wouldn't mind a complimentary glass of champagne so she tracked down one of the waiters with trays of glasses of champagne and got him to come over to us - we were very impressed. The canapEs just kept on coming too so it was a very pleasant experience waiting for our table. The champagne came round again and the waiter automatically put another glass down on the table for us both even though mine was still half full!! There are several photographers on formal nights so there are lots of opportunities to capture the evening. However, we tended to offer to take photos of others and then they returned the favour. 95% of the passengers were suitably dressed for a formal night and we loved dressing up in our finery for the evening. The second formal night was lobster night and another opportunity to have formal shots taken by the ship's photographers. At 11pm there was a balloon drop in the Piazza and earlier in the afternoon we had signed our balloons in the hope of winning a bottle of champagne. Tendering The organisation was superb and it was clear the whole operation is a well oiled machine. We enjoyed watching the tenders being lowered into the sea for the day, and after breakfast we headed down to the Michelangelo restaurant where we were issued with a ticket for our tender. We didn't wait more than 5 minutes either time which is incredible when you consider there were 3000 passengers potentially wanting to disembark for their island excursions. Pools There are four pools on the Crown. The one at the front is adult only next to the Lotus Fitness and Spa near the Sanctuary. It is extremely quiet perhaps because many wrongly believe that it is part of Sanctuary with a charge. The pool at the back of the ship (aft) is also adult only and near the Calypso cafe and Horizon Court. I tried both adult pools and they were pleasant although cold when first getting in. The two pools on the Lido are family pools, one by the Trident Grill, pizzeria and ice cream parlour and the other has the Movies Under the Stars (MUTS) which start showing films at lunchtime, although we found it too loud. The ports The port stops in the Western Caribbean all seemed very different which definitely added to the wonderful experience. There are four ports of call: Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands, Roatan Honduras, Cozumel Mexico and Princess Cays in the Bahamas and I have done a report for each. Disembarkation As with everything on the Crown the organisation was superb and disembarkation was easy. Towards the end of your cruise you are asked what time your flight is, whether you have an excursion or whether you wish to self disembark. From this information you are then given coloured labels for your cases and a disembarkation time and meeting point. The night before disembarkation you are asked to put your packed suitcases outside your cabin. Having a flight bay (carry on) was really useful for bringing wine onboard and for putting our evening wear and shoes in from the last night (don't forget to you lay out the clothes you intend to travel in, so you don't pack them in your suitcase by mistake!) Water, tea and coffee are provided at the meeting points so again you feel you are valued right up to the last minute you are on the ship. You are then disembarked according to the number and colour of your luggage labels. All the suitcases at Fort Lauderdale were lined up in the different number and colour labels so it was really easy to find our suitcases at the port. I think we were really lucky to sail on such a fine ship for our first cruise and would love to take another cruise next year - we have our free onboard credit letter (obtained from the future cruise sails desk) tucked away in a safe place! Grand Cayman The ship arrived about 6.50am (due in at 7am). We watched some of the lifeboats being lowered into to the water ready to be tenders for the day. We grabbed a quick breakfast at Horizon Court (main dining room doesn't open until 7.30am) which was convenient but not half as nice as the MDR.??From there we went down to Michelangelo MDR where they give you a tender ticket number. This is a great location as you can get something tasty at the International Cafe and munch it in while you are waiting. We didn't have to wait more than 5 mins before we were escorted down to the tender. It has to be said that the organisation by Princess is superb and we really couldn't fault the tendering. You need your cruise card (and passport although we didn't have to show it) to get on and off the boat.??Upon arrival at Grand Cayman there are iced water dispensers and paper cups for you if you want. We hadn't pre-booked a tour but as soon as you get off the tender in George Town you are greeted by tour operators all offering the same highlights tour offered by Princess. We took a highlights tour for $20 per person, this included the Cayman Governor's residence, Hell, rum and rum cake tasting and the Dolphin Park (where one person on our tour got in the water to pet and kiss the dolphins for $20 including a lovely professional photograph) We went back via 7 mile beach where we all opted to get dropped off at Sea Grape Beach for some sea and sun (if you do this you have to get back independently)??We headed down the beach a bit and found a lovely quiet spot (on Mondays there are only two cruise ships in port us and the Carnival - tomorrow there will be six ships in port!!) It is no problem getting transport back, a taxi would be $5 each but we just crossed the road and immediately got picked up at the bus stop and that only cost $5 for both of us! (A taxi will want to hang around to try and get more passengers (they like at least four) unless you are prepared to pay $20, so the bus was not only cheaper but a lot quicker)??We had a quick look at George Town (a tax free haven but we are not shoppers) and then got the tender back. Before you get on the tender you are given a fresh cold flannel to cool yourself down and again there is water on tap if you wish.??Once back onboard we ordered room service and enjoyed a club sandwich on the balcony in the sunshine looking across to Grand Cayman (we are the starboard side) with a glass of wine from our box in the fridge. Is was so hot on the balcony I had to come in after lunch!!! I didn't think I'd be saying that in Miami, and yes to answer a previous question the dolphin balconies are completely uncovered. ??There were about 15 suitcases at the tender boat coming back which belonged to passengers who missed the Crown at Fort Lauderdale and therefore caught up with it in Grand Cayman. The Carnival ship arrived after us and left before us so we felt that Princess gave us as much time possible on the island. There was a call for one passenger at 3.30pm and then they said he was on his way (I wouldn't want to risk missing the ship, I think he only just made it) http://howarthfamily.smugmug.com/Other/Caribbean-Cruise/10862873_GvoHV#789147795_fEo5A-M-LB Roatan We both really loved Roatan Honduras!??When we got up rain was lashing against the window which was quite a surprise after the blue skies of Grand Cayman. Fortunately the rain had stopped by the time we docked as Captain Andy gently reversed the Crown into Mahogany Bay and we admired the ship wrecks from our balcony. Last week it was so windy that the ship was unable to dock at Roatan or Princess Cays so we felt very lucky to just have cloud.??After breakfast we headed down to the Princess Theatre for our organised excursion meet point. As there are several trips organised by Princess they assign you a sticker, then your sticker colour all sit together and when your trip is ready to go you are led out orderly one row at a time. Again Princess have this down to a fine art, as with everything you know you are in safe hands. ?Once through the duty free shop (the only way to exit the port) we met our guide (remember your tour number we were 110) and were led to an air conditioned mini-bus. Unlike Grand Cayman we didn't see lots of private tour companies offering tours at the port although there were plenty of taxis. This could be because they are not allowed in as security in Roatan is very high (not sure about this).??First we were led to a view point to look down on the old port (an NCL was berthed there) and given 15 mins for shopping (there was a tourist gift shop and a supermarket)...oh dear we thought we don't want a tour of the gift shops!!! We didn't need to worry at all. We were then driven through the main street in the town, this area was extremely poor with wooden shacks for houses, lots of litter, broken down cars, and banks guarded at the door by burley men with guns and rifles! We passed the Ambulance and Fire station (the Fire engine didn't have any wheels!! fortunately there were two and the other one did) Our guide said crime on the island is not high only about 10% - that seems extremely high, but the mainland is apparently really bad. ??Our tour was island highlights and from this point we were driven to richer, well kept areas but we both felt that the town drive through was an important part of the tour as it showed how many people on the island live, rather than glossing over it. The iguana sanctuary was great. They provide you with banana leaves to feed them and they are so tame - and enormous - that you get lots of picture and petting opportunities. I nearly got hit on the head by one falling out of a tree! There were also monkeys and parrots in cages plus the fish and lobster in the sea.??We then went to a private house which had a superb view and a fantastic garden with lots of beautiful plants and flowers. Next was Parrot Tree Plantation an exclusive residential area where we had a complimentary drink and a swim. The island highlights tour was a great tour and highly recommended.??We popped back to the Crown for a spot of lunch at the International cafe then headed to Mahogany beach on the Magical chair lift (this went up to $8 three weeks ago and you can pre-book tickets on the Crown to be delivered to your cabin at no extra charge)??Mahogany Bay is a beautiful new port and you can have a perfect day for free on this island if you wish! There is a path leading across to white sands and sea with hundreds of lounge chairs that are complementary! It is actually quicker to walk to the beach than take the chair lift but we fancied the chair lift experience of an aerial view! There is a bar for snacks and refreshments if you wish. It is not until you get on the beach you realise just how enormous the Crown actually is - but she maintains a look of class and beauty. We didn't experience any problems with sand fleas or mosquitoes at Roatan - although I did use insect repellent based on other postings I am not aware that any one else had a problem either. Interestingly, even though we had good weather with some cloud on Roatan the people who visited the West side of the island had quite a lot of rain!?What a great day, enjoy the video! ?http://howarthfamily.smugmug.com/Oth...720_Y58Ju-M-LB Cozumel ?At breakfast there was an announcement that several shore excursions had been cancelled due to the windy weather. These were mainly snorkling and scuba diving excursions plus the speedboat to Passion Island. ?We hadn't pre-booked any excursions for Cozumel and that didn't matter as there are lots of tour operators in booths at the port who are very accommodating and gave us directions for the tour we were looking for. We were keen to do an x-rails trip in the jungle and just had to cross the road at the port where there was a tour operator there offering a lot of additional tours. ??We paid a deposit with the chap $10 then got a cab into town $7 for the pick up. Unfortunately we didn't have enough cash on us so we paid by credit card ($155) which normally wouldn't be a problem but we had to pay in pesos so we were subject to a less than favourable exchange rate of 13 rather than 12.5 to the dollar. The cost included taxi there and back to the ship which considering the distance was good.??The x-rails is an off road drive through the jungle. It is very dusty and dirty so if you do it make sure you wear old clothes (and bring a change of clothes to get back on the ship!). Helmets and goggles are provided. You drive to Jade Caverns where you can swim in the jade green water under the bats. You also swim into a cave which is pitch black and that is quite an experience. We then stopped off on the way back to see some natural coral shelters used in hurricanes. You can see that the coral used to be under water as there are shells embedded into the wall. The x-rails trip is really exhilarating but not for faint hearted (or anyone with a back problem) You are really thrown about on the rough road which is great fun.??We popped back to the ship for a bite to eat in the International cafe and then headed out again. At the port as well as shops there is an area with sun loungers and hammocks so we chilled out there in the sun and then I got a massage in the massage tent (full body massage for $25 - better than the Lotus spa prices!!!)??Cozumel is a lovely island with very friendly helpful people who are keen to make sure you have a good holiday. Having been to Roatan which is still quite primitive it was all the more apparent who advanced this Mexican island is. We thoroughly enjoyed Cozumel and think that this cruise has an excellent balance of fun and relaxation.??You are always requested to be back on board 30 mins before we are due to set sail, today 4.30pm for a 5pm sailaway. However it was 4.55pm and the gangways were still out. A call was put out for the missing passengers. 30 mins later they arrived in a taxi right up the pier next to the ship and gangway. Four passengers got out and everyone on the balconies gave a huge cheer... how embarrassing, they were lucky as I don't think we would have waited much longer. Needless to say captain Andy then announced we were now all on board, that they had been stuck in traffic and we were about to set sail.?Enjoy the video? http://howarthfamily.smugmug.com/Oth...083_H577u-M-LB Princess Cays, Bahamas Princess Cays, Bahamas.??We knew that this was the stop that the Crown often fails to tender due to the weather so we had fingers crossed that we would be lucky and we certainly were. The weather forecast said we would have highs of 19 degress (66F) not a good sign. However, the forecast was completely wrong, after a cold start we had glorious weather in the Bahamas and lots of people caught the sun.??The sun came out as soon as our tender landed and as we were the only ship using the island today there were loads of free sun loungers so we were really spoilt for choice. Once on the island you can either turn right or left. Right of the tender pier is quieter and is where you will find clam shells if you have rented them. Left of the pier is busier although this is also the side where you can hire private cabanas (bright coloured beach huts). I would definitely say don't waste your money on a cabana as we spoke to one chap with a cabana who had been led to believe it would be secluded but it was actually on the main path and he had paid $200 for the privilege! Needless to say we used the free sun loungers (available in the sun and the shade) and were very happy.??Your soda card won't work on Princess Cays however we had a UKP sticker and were able to get mocktails and juice all day (one waiter said we couldn't use it but everyone else served us no problem).??I was keen to snorkel so hired the gear for $24 (flippers, vest, mask and snorkel) Having headed to the right handside as it would be a quieter beach we were advised that the snorkelling is better on the left had side so we crossed the little wooden bridge once more. Unfortunately my first snorkel was plagued by jelly fish which were absolutely everywhere and I spent as much time looking out for jelly fish as the colourful fish I'd gone in to see! ??The lifeguard said it was the direction of the wind that had brought them in from the sea so it is good to know they are not normally a problem. He said they will sting you so swim around them and then pointed out that they were not such a problem in his area so I went in again and I was really pleased I did. The coral although mainly grey had parts that were bright purple and yellow and the fish were so beautiful and swimming all around.??There is a BBQ for lunch which is okay, I personally thought the fresh fruit salads and cookies were better than the main BBQ. We had reservations for Sabitini's so were not wanting to eat a lot anyway. We had sun, sea and sand today and it was perfect. As on board ship the food and beverage staff are constantly circulating in case you would like a drink so you never have to stand at the bar waiting to be served. There is iced water provided for free and several waterfountains dotted along the main path.??The last tender was 3.30pm but we didn't fancy standing in a long line at the end of the day so we headed back about 2pm and then enjoyed a glass of fizz on the balcony still enjoying the sunshine. ?http://howarthfamily.smugmug.com/Oth...208_RBquh-M-LB One thing I would like to add is how lovely and friendly everyone is on a cruise (both passengers and staff).The staff work so hard and are really professional throughout. Anyone new to cruising and questioning the autotip let me reassure you that the staff earn every single penny of it and thoroughly deserve it. By doing the autotip you ensure that everyone is rewarded for your good service and not just those on the "front line".??The one thing that really impressed us about Princess was the superb organisation throughout. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
We boarded about 30 minutes before the deadline. By the time we checked in and arrived at our room, our luggage was waiting for me, UNBELIEVABLE. Our room was as described in the literature and was ready for us. Our room steward was ... Read More
We boarded about 30 minutes before the deadline. By the time we checked in and arrived at our room, our luggage was waiting for me, UNBELIEVABLE. Our room was as described in the literature and was ready for us. Our room steward was outstanding. he ensured our needs were taken care of with a smile. He helped make our cruise enjoyable. Our first night dinning in Botticelli was a big disappointment. We were literally the first ones seated and just about the last to be served. Our wait staff service was atrocious. It took so long to be served our meal, we missed the first nights entertainment. The next day I stopped and spoke with the maitre d and asked for another table and waiter. He told me it would be done when I came in for dinner. The maitre d placed us at a table with very nice people and a great wait staff. We made some lasting friends and will plan to cruise with them again. The entertainment in the evenings was very good, and some of the evening entertainers also performed in the Piazza during the late afternoon before the dinner hour. All in all, the entertainment was good with the exception of the Comedian/magician. We saw him in the lounge and found him not very entertaining. On the nights we did not go to the shows, we watched movies under the stars which we enjoyed very much. The deck crew provided blankets for those people who were cold, and they served cookies and milk and popcorn. The Ship was very clean and well maintained. We found our room very quiet and comfortable. As this was our first cruise, it was enjoyable. The only disappointment, was I expected to see great seafood buffets and I did not. Other than that, our cruise was very enjoyable and we will do it again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
This was my husbands and my first cruise and we loved it. We are in our thirties and were travling with both of our parents. We travelled from Jan. 21 to Feb 5. 2010. We flew into Fort Lauderdale the day before we were to embark to ... Read More
This was my husbands and my first cruise and we loved it. We are in our thirties and were travling with both of our parents. We travelled from Jan. 21 to Feb 5. 2010. We flew into Fort Lauderdale the day before we were to embark to save from the stress, and were we ever glad that we did. We almost missed our connection due to a medical emerency on board and because customs took sooooo long to get throug in Toronto. But because a lady from Air Canada called to the gate they held the plane for us as well and about 4 other people. We stayed at the Sheraton, which was okay but needs to be updated. The rooms were clean which was the most important thing! The following morning we were transfered to the pier to embark. Embarkment: I expected this to be a long process, which it wasn't! We ended up only having to wait for one couple in front of us at the terminal and then were aborad the ship! Cabin: We decided to stay in an inside cabin because 1: we didn't plan on being in our rooms very often- only to sleep and 2: we were with our parent who both had balconies! Our room was bigger then I was expecting and had plenty of closet space. It was extremely clean. We had a wonderful room stewart who made us different animals with our towels everyday! He was sooooo friendly and always so happy! Very impressed with him knowing our names and always asking if we needed anything! Dining: We had the first seating at 5:30 in the Provenice Room. My husband and I would have prefered to eat later, his parents wanted to eat at this time for the liked to go to bed early. The food was amazing and our waiter was even better. I have never had better service then Chris gave us! He was friendly and had the best suggestions. I loved the fact that if we were going to order something that he did not feel we would like he would tell us! Loved the fact that we got to know him ( Him and I still keep in touch on facebook!). They offered many different types of dishes from pasta to steak to frogs legs to cold soups! I don;t think I tried anything that I didn't like! For breakfast and lunch we ate at the Horizon Court which offered everything and anything! Thought they did a wonderful job and once again had amzingly wonderful staff! We never did tried any of the speciality resturants, and have no regrets becuase were completely statisfed with what we were eating! Pools: We spent most of our time at the Lido pool. You needed to save a chair early if you want to get a spot by the pool and in the sun. They had plenty of chairs but we liked being right by the pool. The service in the area once again.....amazing. They were always checking to see if you had everything that you needed. We got to know a server from India here, and albsoutly loved him. The only days that we spent at the Lotus pool were the last 2 days...one day it was raining and the other it was chiily out, and since it was indoors, this worked for us. Passage Service desk: The staff were very friendly! I got to know them very well as my room card kept demaagatizing. We think it was because of my camera or the magents on my camera bag. This is a extremely busy place the last day- everyone is sorting through their bills and paying here. Princess Platter: I looked forward to recieving this everynight. It helped us plan out our days- especially th esea days! I also kept all of them, for the photo book that I am going to do of the cruise! It gives me all the info that I want ot put in the book as well is like a reminder of everything we did while we were on the cruise. Entertainment: We didn't take in very many shows- we were all exhausted from the day that we didn't think we would make it through the shows. However we did go and see one of the comedian/magication, who was amazing! Staff: I can't say enough about the staff that was on this ship!!! They work very long hours and always are so friendly! If you ask anyone at any given time how their day is going the answer is always: Excellent! And after how many months they have been on the ship for, and how many hours they work in a day, I never saw once staff member every seem grouchy, irrated, or even tired! The staff on this ship made our trip that much more enjoyable! Medical: On this cruise, my mother-in-laws husband got sick and was quartenteened for three days. Luckily the had a balcony that he still was able to enjoy. The staff once again were amazing with him, making sure that he had everything that he needed. And it was nice to see how quickly the took care of a situation that could be bad for the whole ship. Now he had a Nora Virus which is like a flu, gave him a shot and kept him in for three days so noone else would get it. My mother-in-law was aloud out of the cabin because she had no signs of it,but was not allowed to eat off the buffet. Very understandable! Aruba: My husband, mom, dad, and I went on the 2 stop snorkling adventure. This was great and we snorkled over the sunken ship of Antiles. It was breath taking! Colombia: We took the Old City Tour. I was a little worried about going to Colombia, but once we were in Cartagana felt so comfortable. The people who were trying to sell you something were a little pushy but not too bad. It is such a beautiful old city! Would love to go back to explore some more. Very, Very , Very hot there. I have never experinced such humide temptures butloved it! Drink lots of water! The Panama Canal: BREATHTAKING!!!! I never thought that going through the locks would be such an experince, but it was. It is such a marvel and hard to believe how long ago it was constructed! The views....WOW! PUERTO AMADOR, PANAMA: Here we went to the Authentic Embera Indian Village. Highly recommend this to anyone travelling to Panama! The people here are so friendly and entertaining! This was one of my favorite tours of the trip! Costa Rica: I had been to Costa Rica a few years before, and when we arrived there it felt so good to be back! We went on the Skywalks, which were amazing views! The bridges looked a bit scary, but we made it! HAUTULCO, MEXICO: Here We wnet River Rafting, had so much fun in this. The river isn't very deep and the rapids were only a 1 to a 1.5. the guides were so much fun...starting water fights between the rafts, jumping out and pulling the other guides in...etc. Alot of fun! CABO SAN LUSICA: Here my dad and I went and did the Helment Sea Trek! This was my favorite of all the tours. Your hair stays dry, you can touch your face under the helmet and you are waling on the sea;s floor! I would do this again and again! The pictures that I got are undescribale! DISEMBARKMENT: This was fairly easy. What took the longest was going through the line at customs. Because we had a later flight we were in the middle of the pact trying to get off. Took about an hour hour and a half to go through. I would recommend Princess Cruises to everyone, and I would recommend the Coral priness to everyone as well. This is a fanstatic way to travel and get a sample of so many differnt countries! I want to visit everywhere again! Although my husband we way below the average age on this cruise ( average age 65 to 70 ) we expected this. We still had an amzing time with our parents and would love to cruise again someday! Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
The wife an I were on the CARIBBEAN Princess for out third ever cruise, two prior being on Carnival. The trip was Jan 31 to Feb 7, 2010, Southern Caribbean. We flew into San Juan a day early because on Michigan's unpredictable ... Read More
The wife an I were on the CARIBBEAN Princess for out third ever cruise, two prior being on Carnival. The trip was Jan 31 to Feb 7, 2010, Southern Caribbean. We flew into San Juan a day early because on Michigan's unpredictable weather. Stayed at the airport Best Western hotel, arraigned by Delta travel. It was a decent hotel,clean rooms,good AC,small flat screen tv, but also a smaller room. Small restaurant in hotel, limited menu. It was decent hotel for one night with absolutely nothing around it except airport.Got up the next AM, the hotel will store your bags for 24 hrs free if you are staying there. We took a $10 cab ride in AM to see some of the nearby hotel/resort/casino's along the beach, killed a few hours went back to the hotel, got our bags and a $22 cab ride later were at the Caribbean Princess at the Pan-American docks. Once at the docks, checked the bags with the Porter, went though security,Princess check in, and onto the ship. Arrived 1:30-2PM, 20 min to go aboard, only a few people ahead on us. Once on board we went to our cabin where we met our cabin Steward, Lilly, who already had our bags in the cabin. The entire process was very quick com-paired to previous cruises. The cabin was very well arraigned, plenty closet and drawer space Refrigerator,Nice flat screen TV and a wall safe.The balcony was larger than Carnival 9'x 5', actually room to stretch our legs. Then off to the HC for lunch. The buffet was very good, good choices of food. Just like our last trip. buffet was very crowded, just like our last trip on Carnival Valor. Approx same size ships. The only time we didn't experience the HC crowded during the next week was the one time we went there about 11:30 at night. On to exploring the ship,very clean and modern, we especially loved the International Cafe, Fresh baked good,sandwiches on one of my favorites Lattes on the coffee card which I immediately purchased Casino-larger then I expected, good variety of machines. Princess Theater-about half of the one on the Carnival and always crowded as you'd expect. We saw 3 shows during the week, all good, nothing great though. The layout out the ship was easy to find things with the information placards at each elevator. We did eat in the Main dining room every night mainly because the wife wanted to, personally a like the MDR on Carnival better myself. The menu's were mostly I think in French,so I had to guess a lot what was being served. We did ask about the menu items but i found out later the wife couldn't understand the waiter either. This is all my personal opinion and I'm sure others might disagree. Personally the HC with the buffet was better and Carnival as was the pizza. Room service in the AM was prompt we just ordered the continental breakfasts, nothing else although the choices are many to pick from. Neither of us could believe the waiters in in HC to bring you coffee juice etc, not available on Carnival. On the second day we signed up for the EZ check baggage program. In the program you leave your bags outside your door on the last evening, In San Juan you have to take them through Customs personally, then turn the bag over to EZ check personnel, then meet them at your final destination. It sure saves the airport lines, you get airline boarding passes on the ship, so you only go Thur the security at the airport, the straight to the boarding gate. The trip must be all on the same airline and costs $20 extra, plus regular airline bag fees. With Princess the paperwork has to be in by noon of the second day. EZ check people are among the first off the ship so with only carry on bags and 5 hours to kill we took one of the San Juan tours being offered by the companies at he pier. Cost $25 PP for a 4 hour bus and walking tour of old and new San Juan, and a drop off at the airport. Your bags are left on the bus with the driver staying there. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
This was our first ever cruise, and we had such a wonderful time that we've just booked another one with Princess this September! The Emerald Princess is absolutely beautiful: everything is clean and modern, and the huge ship has so ... Read More
This was our first ever cruise, and we had such a wonderful time that we've just booked another one with Princess this September! The Emerald Princess is absolutely beautiful: everything is clean and modern, and the huge ship has so many things to do and see. It was only on the last day that we eventually got to know where everything was - which was a bit of a shame, because we'd had a lot of fun getting lost beforehand. We opted for a full suite, which was simply fabulous. There was plenty of room, and it was very comfortable. Our cabin steward (from the Philippines) spoke excellent English and he was very helpful: always around when we needed him, and never intrusive. Towels were changed twice daily, so we always had fresh towels for each use. Fresh fruit was provided in our cabin, and re-stocked as the days passed. We were also delighted to see that extra touch to make passengers feel special: fresh flowers in the room, and nightly chocolates on the pillow. The bathroom was very large, with two sections: a toilet/basin section, and a bath/shower section. There was a separate shower cubicle, and a whirlpool tub. The huge balcony had sun-loungers and a separate table and chairs. We had anytime dining. When we booked the cruise, we were told that the minimum table size was 4 - so we could be sitting with others. However, we always had tables for two and never had to share - which was just how we wanted it. Not that we're unfriendly - but the purpose of our holiday was a romantic trip for two, and not to meet other people. Therefore we were very pleased. On all but one night, we never had a problem getting a table - we just walked into the dining room and were assigned a table immediately. There was only one evening where we were told there was a 45-minute wait. Not a problem... because room service was complimentary, so it did not cost any more to just eat in our cabin. So we ordered room service, and it was served on our balcony's table - complete with tablecloth which was brought with the food. The next day, the dining staff remembered that we chose not to wait, and telephoned in the morning to invite us to make a reservation. The service was just wonderful. The quality of the food was second to none. The dining room served gourmet food, which was tasty without bloating you up. And no-one could ever complain about the quantity of food served: there was so much of it, that it was hard to stop "grazing" throughout the day, therefore leaving it as a challenge to be empty enough for the evening meal. On the first day of the cruise I saw the burger grill, and the pizza & ice cream bar - and asked my girlfriend rhetorically: "why would anyone want to fill themselves up with junk food, when there's so much good quality food elsewhere?" However, a few days later I changed my tune when I tried the burgers and pizzas: they're not junk food at all, they were top quality, very meaty burgers - and authentic Italian pizza with stonebaked taste! So even the so-called "junk" food was not junk at all - it was all excellent. The entertainment was good. We never attended a show with the "Princess Dancers"; instead opting to go for all the comedy shows. Kevin Hughes was very funny, and always packed out the theatre. Tim Donovan - the English cruise director - was also an entertainer in himself, as he always had a humorous way of introducing the guest performers. Regarding the ports of call: we were supposed to go to Princess Cays in the Bahamas, but the waves were too rough to be safe for the tender service, so that day was skipped. The other places we did dock at were St. Maarten (Netherlands Antilles), St. Thomas (US Virgin Islands) and Grand Turk (Turks & Caicos Islands). We did not want to pay for any of the Princess-organised tours and activities, as they seemed overpriced for what they were. However, you can easily wander around town on your own without paying anything. One thing I have to say about these ports of call - they are very much geared up for the tourist market. There was nothing in particular to see in terms of sightseeing - but the streets were lined with diamond and gemstone shops, trying to sell to the supposedly rich cruise ship passengers. At the other end of the scale, there were the shops selling tourist tat. We were interested in neither! So really, the purpose of the cruise was in order to experience the luxury of the ship itself - not in order to visit the ports of call. Although my girlfriend was delighted with being able to bathe in the sea in Grand Turk - which she said was crystal clear. One more thing to add, regarding tipping. I'm English, and we regard a tip as an optional payment given in reward for a service performed which exceeds expectations. However, as an American company, Princess sees tipping as an automatic payment: rooms are by default charged an amount of "tips" per day, payable on the onboard account. They may say that this is in order to pay the staff - because many of them (especially, for example, the people who wash up in the kitchens) must be poorly paid. However, I see this as cheating. They should pay their staff a decent wage in the first place. The difference in price can then be included in the advertised price of the cruise. This is why it is cheating: to entice people to book by advertising an attractive sale price, but then relying on "tips" to supplement the staff wages. No. Take note please, Princess: you should pay your staff a decent wage to begin with, and reflect that in your advertised prices. Then no passengers get a nasty shock with "hidden" charges. Anyway - as I said to begin with, the experience was so wonderful that we decided to book another cruise with Princess again. I just hope the experience matches our expectations! I'll let you know. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
This was our first cruise and we chose Princess. Admittedly we don't have anything to compare it to, and we didn't have a lot of preconceived notions of what it should be like, but we absolutely loved our cruise on the Emerald ... Read More
This was our first cruise and we chose Princess. Admittedly we don't have anything to compare it to, and we didn't have a lot of preconceived notions of what it should be like, but we absolutely loved our cruise on the Emerald Princess. Embarkation was easy and we thought it was very quick, considering the length of the line. The ship was beautiful. We had heard about how small the cabins usually are and we were pleasantly surprised, as our balcony stateroom was perfectly adequate and very pretty. We also did not find out bed uncomfortable. Our cabin was on the Lido deck and was one of the very front cabins, and our balcony wall was solid, rather than clear. I would probably have rather had a clear balcony wall because when sitting down, you couldn't see out; however, I felt like we did have a bit more privacy, so I guess you can't have it all. We had originally planned to spend a morning at The Sanctuary, but decided not to. It seemed their claim to fame was no children and we saw so few children on this cruise that it seemed like kind of a moot issue. The art gallery and the piazza were lovely, but we spent the most time sitting by the pool. My husband spent one morning on a sea day at the casino and seemed to enjoy it. The service we received was impeccable. We were celebrating our 32nd anniversary and they gave us balloons and sang to us at dinner. It was just right, enough to be nice, but not overdone. The housekeeping staff we hardly ever saw, but it seemed they were in our cabin every time we weren't, cleaning up. In the public areas, as soon as we sat down, a waiter would offer us something. The service in the Botticelli dining room was wonderful also. When we take another cruise, we have agreed we will sign up for the early seating. This cruise, we signed up for the late seating because we worried that early dinner would interfere with our shore time. However, we were always back on the ship in plenty of time to eat early and late seating caused us to eat four meals a day because by 5:00 we were hungry, so we would eat a meal at the pool snack bar. Live and learn... The food we thought was very good. There were a few things we didn't care for, but since there was such a variety available, what we didn't like, we simply didn't order again. For instance, the first night, I ordered pasta that had capers, which I had never tried before. I found out I don't care for capers, but it wasn't their fault. The desserts were to die for, not only at the Crown Grill, which we visited on our anniversary, but in the main dining room, as well. The Crown Grill was very nice and the food very good. I ordered the lobster tail, learning later that they had lobster in the main dining room that night too! When I asked for a glass of wine with my dinner, they acted like this was something they had never heard of and tried to get me to buy a whole bottle. Since my husband is not a wine drinker, I didn't want the whole bottle. The waiter finally said I could have a single glass, from a choice of a few brands. The erupting chocolate dessert made me completely forget any uneasiness over the wine though. My only complaint about Princess is that I thought it was a little confusing to be charged for some food items and not others. For instance, at the International Cafe, apparently just the gelato is at an additional cost. The Crown Grill also had one item that cost more than the cover charge. From what I understand, there is no charge for room service items UNLESS you order pizza (??) It isn't the cost of these items, so much as just wanting to be clear on what we are being charged for and what we are not. Also, we understood that the gratuity was in the form of the lump sum charge, but there were a very few times that I felt that the staff wanted/expected to be tipped and it made me a little uncomfortable. Ports of call: I wasn't really expecting much from Princess Cay in the Bahamas, but we found it to be charming with a beautiful beach. We rented a clamshell and we found it worth the $25, as it gave us a little privacy, as well as shade. If you walk down the beach a little ways, you can even find that seclusion that is so sought after (and so rare). I love St Maarten. We didn't do a shore excursion, but just walked the cobblestone streets of Philipsburg and then visited the beautiful beach and shops. We had a guava berry colada at an outdoor bar. I intend to spend a week in St. Maarten one of these days. The jury is still out on St. Thomas. We took the beach shore excursion to Magen's Bay. Magen's Bay was beautiful, as was the drive up there and the views. We enjoyed the excursion very much. However, the other parts of St. Thomas that we saw seemed a little old and run down. In fact part of the city reminded us a lot of old Tijuana. I am thinking that perhaps we just didn't see the right things. I would like to go back and see some other parts of it. The beach at Grand Turk is gorgeous. The water as seen from shore or from the ship is crystal clear and I love it. It seemed there is not as much to do there, though, if you don't dive. There are lots of shops right at the pier and we thought it was more expensive than the other ports. Someone told me it may be because they know they are the last stop and people are going to spend money no matter what. Margaritaville was a disappointment. The margaritas were $10 ea. and served in little plastic disposable picnic cups. Needless to say, we didn't stay there long. Regarding our fellow passengers...I would say, as others have pointed out about this cruise, that the median age was a little older than we are, and we are 50-ish. But for our part, we had more in common with these people than we would have with 25 year olds who want to drink as much as possible or talk about their children (or have them along). Our tablemates at dinner were considerably older than we were, but they were a wealth of knowledge, as these were well-traveled people. Having said that, I can see how travelers in their 20s/early 30s might think this cruise wasn't active enough. For us, we wanted most of all to relax and that is exactly what we were able to do. We will definitely be cruising again with Princess. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We booked with cruise1st through an advert in the press. Service was fine and the price was excellent. They helped in choosing a cabin and the advice really made the holiday. The 3 nights in as Vegas were a superb start. The Riviera was ... Read More
We booked with cruise1st through an advert in the press. Service was fine and the price was excellent. They helped in choosing a cabin and the advice really made the holiday. The 3 nights in as Vegas were a superb start. The Riviera was fine with a "complimentary" upgrade to a massive and beautiful suite. We booked a cabin with a balcony on the port side. We were in beautiful sunshine almost all the way out. Aloha deck meant we were not overlooked - some of the lower decks are - the upgrade was only £50. The port side was in the shade on the way back but the weather was overcast so it did not really matter. The entertainment was excellent and there was always lots to do. We brought a couple of bottles of wine on board at each port and we were never challenged. We also bought the "coke" card and this proved a good buy. The bed was fine in spite of the many reviews saying otherwise. The food was excellent and you are spoilt for choice. You do not have to dress up for formal nights. We had no problems embarking or disembarking in spite of the reviews I read before. In fact we were massively impressed in how quickly they move so many on and off. The waitors and cabin staff are superb. I used the gym a few times - the have a booking system at busy times so the first 12 up there can book the prime slots for the whole cruise! Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Background Information As a young couple, who had never been on a summer holiday together, we were looking for an experience away from the loutish clubbing/beach holidays, which is not really our scene. We had previously been on coach ... Read More
Background Information As a young couple, who had never been on a summer holiday together, we were looking for an experience away from the loutish clubbing/beach holidays, which is not really our scene. We had previously been on coach holidays and enjoyed the transient nature of a new place to explore each day, so a cruise seemed like the ideal option. Travel To Port of Embarkation A comfortable, spacious coach was provided from a pick-up point near us, to take us to Southampton, where we boarded the Grand Princess. Sufficient comfort-breaks were provided en route and the duration of these was adequate to ensure time to grab something to eat and drink, stretch the legs and use the toilet. Ship Info On first sight, the ship seemed massive and forboding. The sheer scale from the quay side was truly amazing. We were greeted by staff in a warm and friendly manner as we boarded the ship and we found our room with ease. The ship was very clean and tidy, which came a slight surprise to us as having read reviews before taking our holiday, we had heard that this ship is particular was in need of updating and redecoration. We did not find this to be the case at all. It took a couple of days to orientate ourselves, due to some areas looking rather similar, but this was part of the charm of finding our way around. After these intitial orientation issues, the ship became a home from home. Activities There was no shortage of things to do on the ship, whether you were looking for buzz and excitement, or a place to chill and relax, there was always a suitable area for you. Swimming, spa treatments, hot tubs, crazy golf, casino, open air cinema - to list just a few. There were of course other daily activities, such as pottery classes, art auctions, bingo, live singers, comedians and magicians, karaoke and cookery demonstrations. These differed from day to day and all info pertaining to activities could be found in The Princess Patter Newsletter, which was delivered every evening. Some activities are available for a fee, but most were free. Service The service on the ship was second to none - from the meet and greet staff at the embarkation points, to the pool side staff, from the stewards, to the crew... every member of staff greeted you with a smile and kind word. We were allocated a steward on arrival, who attended to our every need, even going above and beyond the call of duty on more than one occasion. There is a service charge which you can opt to pay on a case by case basis or you can opt to pay a standard charge which is added to your bill and is payable at the end of your cruise. We opted for the latter as it is much easier than carrying around large amounts of dollars in your pocket. We never received service which was of a low standard, therefore we did not resent having to pay the service charge. When totalled up at the end of the cruise, it seemed rather high, but when we realised how many different staff we had encountered throughout our stay and how well we had been treated, it was well worth every penny or cent! Port & Shore Excursions You should prepare yourself in advance for the fact that you will not always just be able to hop off the ship and then hop back on again, at your leisure. Some ports were accessible on foot, with a shuttle bus from the port to the town or village, at others you had to be transported by a tug boat to the actual port, as the water was too shallow to dock the ship. Another scenario was where the port was easily accessed, but the actual city you wished to visit was a fairly long journey away, e.g. for Florence and Rome, which were an hour's train journey away. We had researched this, prior to starting our holiday to find the best possible methods of accessing ports of call, so were not surprised to discover that we needed to travel by train. Others however, did not realise until the night before that the port was so far inland and had to do some rather quick thinking in order to get the most out of their visit. We decided not to take up any offers of tours or excursions, due to the fact that we felt we would see more and feel less hassled to go at our own pace. Friends we met on the ship had taken up every excursion available and with a 6am-7am start every morning, were very tired at the end of a day! This is not to say that I would not recommend the excursions, I might just advise that you only take up a few and space them out to allow a "long lie" to recharge the batteries now and again! Stateroom Our inside stateroom was by no means spacious or airy, but had the basic conveniences required to make our stay very comfortable. If we were to book again, however, we would still opt for the budget inside stateroom to allow more money to spend on other things! We visited our friends outside stateroom, with balcony and although, it had slightly more room than ours, the balcony did not give much privacy, was a little draughty and unfortunately there was not a lot to see out of the patio doors, except sea for miles and miles! The presence of a window meant that you were very much aware of the elements, when the sea became choppy, as opposed to being inside. Also, an afternoon nap was not spoilt by the sun streaming in the window in an inside stateroom, as there was no window! Dining The food was fantastic - something for everyone and for every taste. A huge range of fruit, vegetables, meats, fish, pasta, pizza, etc is available in a wide variety of cooking styles, was available and was changed on a daily basis. You can opt for anytime dining where you can literally roll up to the buffet any time of night or day, or eat at one of the fine dining restaurants, any time throughout the evening. I would recommend booking a table and booking early so that you do not get caught up in the queues of the fixed diners. Fixed dining is when you can eat at the same table, with the same people at the same time every night, in one of the fine dining restaurants. We found anytime dining to be more conducive to our "fly by the seat of our pants" existence, as sometimes we just wanted a snack or to eat in our shorts and T-shirt and other evenings we wanted to embrace the whole formal affair, by dressing up and being wined and dined in style. Entertainment The entertainment was perhaps the only let down on this holiday, but then I really am scraping the bottom of barrel to find anything negative to say about the whole cruise experience! For a couple in their 30s, we found the singers, comedians, dancers, etc to be a little out-dated for our tastes. We could have done with the option of a young, vivacious band who played current tunes to get us up on the dance floor or an up and coming comedian to give us a giggle, but the bands were very middle of the road and the comedians were a bit Friday Night at the Palladium (circa 1985). In saying this, however, I do appreciate the diversity in the ages and tastes of the audience and therefore understand how difficult it must be to strike a balance and to try to please everyone. The saving graces were the karaoke and the Wheelhouse Jazz Bar, which played live music from a very talented young jazz pianist. You will not be stuck for something to do in the evenings, however, as there are so many options - it's just a matter of finding the right vibe for you. Disembarkation This was swift and hassle free. We were given an approximate time slot to make our way to a specific area of the ship and then were given a ticket. When your number was called, your coach was ready and you were prepared to disembark. All organised to make it quick, pain free and efficient. Summary On reflection, this was the best holiday experience I have ever had and I would recommend it to anyone, young or old, as the perfect way to relax and enjoy their holiday, with no worries. On balance, we have nothing to compare it with, this being our first ever cruise experience. Oh well, might just have to book another Princess cruise to create a more balanced review...! Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
This was my 2nd cruise on princess, the first being an alaskan cruise which I went on with my parents. I took this cruise with my partner and it was her first time cruising.We flew into San Juan a day early. We had no problem getting ... Read More
This was my 2nd cruise on princess, the first being an alaskan cruise which I went on with my parents. I took this cruise with my partner and it was her first time cruising.We flew into San Juan a day early. We had no problem getting around the city. Taxis were very clearly priced. We had a hotel close to the airport and beach and took a taxi into downtown. We went to both of the forts, they were beautiful, but we really only needed to see one. Walked down 'calle del sol' which is just a quaint little street lined with colorful houses. We did alot of walking around and enjoying the weather. We enjoyed the beach that was about 2 blocks from the hotel, and also the hotels pool and swim up bar :)On the morning of embarkation we took a taxi to the pier... it was not in downtown san juan, so we didn't get a chance to walk around any more as we had hoped. But we got on the ship rather quickly and started finding our way around. We purchased two bottles of wine at the duty free shop and brought them on board to our room.We had booked an inside cabin, but had been upgraded to a balcony a few weeks before the cruise!!! We were so psyched! Our travel agent said that hardly ever happens, so we were pretty lucky!The islands:St. Thomas-We took a champagne catamaran excursion over to St. John. I believe it was called Honeymoon Beach. It was an awesome boat ride. Our tour guides were great. Snorkeling was awesome. Everyone really spread out and we got really close to some sea turtles. We tried to call over the rest of the group, but literally no one was around. It was a great experience. wine, mimosas or rum punch on the way back, and there was plenty to go around!Dominica-we did the wacky rollers ziplining excursion. It was fantastic. Although they gave very little guidance, it was great and very safe. A great challenge-and we were pretty sore the next day! Grenada-we stayed on the ship. enjoyed the pool and some ice carving.Bonaire-we decided to do another snorkeling tour, which we hadn't signed up for in advance. Turned out to be great. It was an older wooden boat which sailed us over to Klein Bonaire. Again, it was beautiful, swimming among the fish and coral. They took 'advanced' snorkelers out a bit farther and then we swam back to the boat. We are not 'advanced' nor did we need to be! We are athletic and were able to swim the distance without being tired. With fins and an inflatable vest, it's pretty easy. Our tour guide was slightly pushy and kept telling us to keep up with the group. I would've liked to be able to take my time and enjoy what I wanted to see. But it was nice that we knew that they weren't going to leave without us!Aruba-we did not do an excursion. We walked a couple of blocks to the bus depot and paid a few dollars to go down to lines of hotels. We didn't really know the lay of the land, so just hoped off at a hotel and walked out to the beach. We ended up renting a chair from the hotel and enjoyed the day! it was great, clear blue water as we had imagined! Back in PR-disembarkation was quick and we ended up at the airport way too early for our flight. We convinced our driver to bring us back to the beach that we had been to before-across from the hotel. We spent a couple of hours there and then took a cab back into the airport.On the ship-activities were plentiful! We took many dance classes, went on the behind the scenes tour, got a spa treatment. The entertainment was good, not great. It's not broadway or anything, but it's entertaining.Overall a great time! Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
EMBARKATION. We really expected to do a lot of very slow movement toward our dream holiday. As it turned out, we had barely stepped onto Station Pier (Melbourne) and we were relieved of our luggage by Princess staff. We would say it took ... Read More
EMBARKATION. We really expected to do a lot of very slow movement toward our dream holiday. As it turned out, we had barely stepped onto Station Pier (Melbourne) and we were relieved of our luggage by Princess staff. We would say it took no longer than 30 minutes from arriving to boarding. Not bad when you consider there were 2000 of us. Extremely well organised and welcoming. STATEROOM. Small, but we had everything we needed.Beautifull king-sized bed with heaps of drawers and wardrobe space. Considering we only slept, showered and dressed there, it was more than adequate.The only negative comment is that when you turned off the lights,it was BLACK.Next time we will book an Ocean View cabin. STATEROOM STEWARD. Someone had told us that the staff make you feel as though you are the most important passenger on board.That turned out to be absolutely correct.Our girl couldn't do enough for us and did things straightaway, regardless of how busy she was. First Class. DINING. We were designated the Marquis room and 1st sitting. The menu gave us many options. The courses were small but, after the meals we had during the day, it was more than enough.The food was great.We had most of our breakfasts and lunches in the Horizon Court.We didn't know you could do eggs so many different ways.The variety was endless.The view from there - a bonus. ENTERTAINMENT. The comedians were well past there prime, but still came out with a few rippers.The live shows in the Princess theatre were excellent and, short of snow skiing and ice-skating, there wasn't anything we couldn't do.Being a Melbourne based cruise, I was disappointed there wasn't more local content shown on the television.I missed seeing my favourite football team on 2 occasions. The audience with the Captain was very informative and entertaining.The pianists and small ensembles playing during the trip only added to the already relaxing ambience. There was even a jigsaw the most people had a go at.You would be hard to please if you weren't entertained.PURSERS DESK. Very helpfull, friendly and well staffed, so there was very little waiting. It's worthwhile mentioning that you may wish to wait in the queue on arrival if you wish to change the nominated $10 a day staff tip. The $10 tip is automatic and will be deducted unless you change it.You don't have to pay it, but we thought it was wiser to pay something as well as give something to people of our choice. COFFEE CARD. On arrival we purchased a coffee card which entitled me to 15 lovely cappuccinos at a reduced rate. If you are a coke or soft drink lover you can buy a container and keep refilling it the entire time. DISEMBARKATION.As embarkation, very well organised.We were all put into colour-coded groups and gathered in various lounges throughout the ship. Each group was given a time to leave the ship.It was so well run that they ran ahead of time.Our luggage which was picked up from outside our room the night before,had the same colour and was very easy to collect.Next time, we must remember to take an overnight bag for the necessary items the next day. We decided we liked embarking more. A wonderfull on a wonderfull ship. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
When we took our honeymoon cruise in 2006 (age 38)aboard the Caribbean Princess when it was only a couple of years old. I do not know the wear and tear she may have suffered since that time but I will relate our experience as I remember ... Read More
When we took our honeymoon cruise in 2006 (age 38)aboard the Caribbean Princess when it was only a couple of years old. I do not know the wear and tear she may have suffered since that time but I will relate our experience as I remember it. CABIN - Starboard side: Our cabin was a mini-suite and it was AMAZING! It was roomy, had a covered balcony which many other class cabins did not have. It was towards the aft end of the ship close to the largest suites. It is a ways from any elevator or stairs but we didn't care. Having the quiet and covered balcony was worth the walk. The bed was exceptionally comfortable and we even got a new mattress when we docked in Jamaica, I guess it was just time to swap out. The bathroom was well appointed. There were two tv's one for the bed area and one facing the sofa area. Having a starboard side cabin meant we would pass all the islands on our side for the beginning of the trip, which was nice. FOOD: Since we were "new" to cruising we had opted to have the later dinner time so that we weren't rushed back from excursions. The only downside to an 8pm dining time is your in there so long you might miss some of the nighttime entertainment. The food was incredible in the main dining room. Our waiter exceptional and the guests that sat with us were very nice and from europe so there was plenty to talk about culture wise. The waiter brought us a delicious specialty cake in honor of our honeymoon. I wouldn't tell anyone to avoid any of the dining experiences only because everyones taste is different and while I might not have liked one place you may. We purchased the soda package and it was worth it. The cocktails are so huge that we didn't really need to order more than one at any given time. Just watch your "drinking" costs so you aren't hammered in the wallet later. IN GENERAL: This is a more "mature" ship. There weren't a lot of kids which was nice. The putt putt area is a little stinky only because it is fake grass and it holds moisture so we avoided that area. The pools can get crowded during at sea times but hey, there are 2800 people looking for something to do so get used to it. I would certainly travel this beautiful cruise line again.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
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