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3,051 Princess Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades) Cruise Reviews

We are a family of three, we traveled with our 4 year old. Previously we have only sailed Celebrity and we are looking forward to many future Princess cruises. Embarkation was easy and quick- just find out where the ship will be docked ... Read More
We are a family of three, we traveled with our 4 year old. Previously we have only sailed Celebrity and we are looking forward to many future Princess cruises. Embarkation was easy and quick- just find out where the ship will be docked when you return as we parked our car at one pier and returned to another. Getting back to our car on arrival day was a nightmare and fortunately the only bad thing about the trip. The Island Princess still has that "new car smell" and our cabin, C202 (a mini suite- totally worth the extra $ for a 10 day sailing), while it had no balcony, was right next to the "crew Only " door that led out to the front of the ship where we had a great view of entering the Panama Canal. The service was fine- Celebrity has friendlier service, but one thing I can say- Princess waiters were quick! We chose the "anytime dining" option and it worked really well for us as we chose to dine every night at 7:30. We aren't big "table lingerers" and we were usually done by 9-9:15. The children's program was outstanding. They really spend money on supplies, prizes and toys for the kids. My daughter was up every morning begging to go to the "Fun Zone"! The girls who worked with the kids were wonderful. The food was very good. We found that Celebrity excels in French cuisine and bread, Princess in Italian cuisine. The pizza was fantastic- and that's coming from me- an Italian who grew up on pizza! I AM glad that I brought my own travel coffee pot, as I love my coffee and the only decent coffee was the restaurant espresso that you had to pay for. The rest of it was pretty vile. I am also glad I packed an extension cord because I wouldn't have been able to plug in my blow dryer without it. The ports of call were very nice- we could have done without the short Nassau stop. We didn't even bother getting off the ship. We left Nassau by noon. In Costa Rica we did a tour with Oscar Brown who we found through the Cruise Critic boards. The tour was perfect for us- though there was some confusion regarding who was on it. We thought we were alone, so we invited a few friends, but when we found Oscar, he had already booked another family of 7 and a couple. It worked out OK- but be clear about who is going before departing. Entering and exiting the Panama Canal is something I'll always remember. Cayman and Cozumel were lazy beach days for us. Some things I'd like to see change: I don't think its necessary for the cruise director to have to announce the activities of the day over the PA system when they are printed in the daily Princess Patter. It was a bit annoying. I would like to see a central area for the pool towels. They should be easier to pick up, exchange, and get rid of. Right now you have to do this through your room steward and I found that to be an inconvenience. I loved the fact that you never had to worry about finding an open lounge chair. There are several pools to choose from so you never really felt too crowded. Other than that I have to say I will definitely sail with Princess again. Any questions- feel free to e mail me! Suzanne Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
Embarkation process: Very smooth. Cannot be any better. We had pre-registered on the Internet and all we had to do was to go to the counter and pick up our cruise cards. It took all of about 10 minutes! Cabin: We had a balcony cabin on the ... Read More
Embarkation process: Very smooth. Cannot be any better. We had pre-registered on the Internet and all we had to do was to go to the counter and pick up our cruise cards. It took all of about 10 minutes! Cabin: We had a balcony cabin on the port side on Aloha deck. fairly good size cabin with queen bed, desk, full length mirror, open closet space with plenty of hanger space, a double-door cabinet with shelves that included a password protected safe. Many before us have commented on the extremely small size of the shower stall. We agree. Not a bad stall if your waist size is 28! Overall excellent, comfortable, spacious, and quite cabin. Food: Breakfast buffet is excellent. The omelette station is just wonderful. Plenty of fruits, breads, cereals and meats are available. In juices only orange juice is offered. We found it a bit on the watery side. Great coffee. Lunch and dinner buffets are OK but nothing to brag about. Plenty of choices for both events. We enjoyed the grill and the pizza place for most of our lunches. Great burgers and pizza. One annoying thing - both places, grill and pizza close at 6 pm! Folks with kids were not too happy about that. We had 8 pm sitting in the Provence Dining room for the dinner. We had asked for a table for two when we bought the vacation, bit we were mildly skeptical about getting it. Well, we did! That was a pleasant surprise. Excellent service from the wait staff and every evening, excellent food with a good variety in the changing menus. We dined at the Bayou Restaurant, one with the New Orleans theme. We enjoyed it, at a $10/pp cover charge. Food and service were very good. Great live jazz music too! We did not try the Italian restaurant. Public areas: This is where the ship really shines! Entire 7th deck is for open public areas. That includes a good size casino, Wheelhouse Lounge, Princess Theater at the front end and the Universe Lounge at the back end. All 7th deck facilities are excellent. The atrium rises from the 5th deck to 8th deck and is a beautiful site to watch and relax. Bars are everywhere. A few CruiseCritic reporters have mentioned the pushy bar waiters pushing the "medium" size drinks. True. However, all of the bar waiters were very polite and did not mention the larger drinks once we said no. Bar drinks are fairly priced, sizes are reasonable and presented very nicely. Entertainment: One word describes it well - Excellent. Great comic shows, and excellent production shows. We attended two cooking demos and both were good. One word of caution - Most of the upper level seats in the Universe Lounge have at least partially obscured view. If you really wish to enjoy the show, get there a few minutes early and find seats on the lower level. Exercise, Pools and Jacuzzis: Excellent, first rate exercise facility with 11 tread mills, several ski machines and full implement of other equipment. One trainer was also available. Pools, two of them, are also very good. There are almost 8 jacuzzis. We enjoyed those too. Massage and other personal services were available but we did not take advantage of them. Ports of call and excursions: We skipped excursions at Cozumel and Grand Cayman. We had been there before. At Puerto Limon we took the half-day jungle cruise. It was OK. There is nothing interesting at the port itself. Very modest shops, ALL SELLING THE SAME STUFF at the same price! Panama Canal experience was awesome! We took the train excursion. We enjoyed it very much. One tip for the photo and movie enthusiasts - Go the 14th deck, front of the ship early, say at 7 am if you wish to see everything and photograph it during the Gatun Locks passage. It gets crowded and very few friendly souls yield to accommodate late intruders! At Ocho Rios, we took the half-day highlights tour. It was enjoyable. We had approx. 45 minutes to shop at the Taj Mahal shopping place. That was OK too. Nothing exceptional. Disembarkation: As smooth as the embarkation process. Princess has got this business right! Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
We sailed on the Caribbean Princess on April 24, 2004 to May 1, 2004. We had our children 4 and 7 with us. We had sailed on the Disney Magic last summer and had a wonderful time. Actually we were a little afraid that we would be ... Read More
We sailed on the Caribbean Princess on April 24, 2004 to May 1, 2004. We had our children 4 and 7 with us. We had sailed on the Disney Magic last summer and had a wonderful time. Actually we were a little afraid that we would be disappointed on another cruise line after such a good time on Disney. Needless to say, the cruise was fantastic. My group enjoyed themselves more on this cruise than on the Disney cruise. The ship was beautiful. There were 4 pools to choose from and 2 small children's pools, one of which was located in the Kids Club section. My children loved going to the Kids Club. The hours of operation were from 8-12, 2-5, and 7-10. Each night they had a children's disco which my children insisted on going to. The staff throughout the ship was very nice. One of the staff member working in the Kids Club was a Registered Nurse. On the final night of the cruise, they gave all of the children who attended a stuffed animal. They also colored t-shirts with the ship's logo on it. Needless to say, the ship was very clean. On sea days, we spent most of our time by the pool. The Movie under the stars was great. They closed the pool during the movie, but you could still get into the hot tubs which we did. If you wanted to swim, there were 3 other pools to choose from. Unfortunately, children were not allowed in the current pool. But, we do understand that each ship needs an adult pool only. Overall, we had a great time. We would definitely recommend this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
It was the "best vacation" I ever took!! We went crusiing for the second year in a row with the same couple. Our ages are: 60, 57, 56, and 56 - all of us enjoyed every minute of the cruise! The food was extemely good, the ... Read More
It was the "best vacation" I ever took!! We went crusiing for the second year in a row with the same couple. Our ages are: 60, 57, 56, and 56 - all of us enjoyed every minute of the cruise! The food was extemely good, the service was better than that, the shows were very good - we could not find a complaint for the review sheet that we had to turn in. The Sterling steak house was just wonderful and well worth the $15 charge per person!! Our inside room was very nice and was laid out much better than rooms in our past cruises. We did enjoy the outdoor threater, the fitness area, the walk around the 7th deck (951.5 ft on each side) and getting on and off the ship was no trouble and went very well. The waiters (Anthony and Junior) were the best and the cabin mate just could not do enough for us. You can not find a better cruise for the money!! We enjoyed all the ports that we sailed to. We will be going on another Princess cruise on this ship again next year!! EVERYTHING WAS SUCH A GREAT EXPERIENCES!!!!! ON A SCALE OF 10 - I WOULD RATE IS A 12!!! Thanks Princess for the nice week!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
We sailed on the April 24th through May 1st Eastern Caribbean sailing. We arrived around 12:30 and found no lines outside. Once inside the building the small lines moved very quickly. We were inside the ship within 15 minutes max. The ... Read More
We sailed on the April 24th through May 1st Eastern Caribbean sailing. We arrived around 12:30 and found no lines outside. Once inside the building the small lines moved very quickly. We were inside the ship within 15 minutes max. The decor was lovely. We found it warm and inviting. All public rooms were beautiful and the ship was very clean. I can not comment on the cleanliness of the pools since I am not a pool person. I did notice that the aft pools were much quieter. This was the 1st time we had an aft balcony. We fell in love with it at once. We spent many hours relaxing on our balcony watching the wake of the ship. It was twice the normal size. It had 2 chairs and a table and 2 lounge chairs that our room steward brought us. We also took naps on the lounge chairs in the afternoon. There were only the 2 of us so the room size was fine. We had enough space to hang all of our clothes and plenty of draw space. We found the shower size to be very small. Having only sailed Carnival before we noticed that if you dropped anything in the shower you had a difficult time picking it up without leaving the shower 1st. We had a wonderful room steward Lenie. She always had the room clean and was always there with a smile and hello. We had second seating traditional in the Island Dining room. We asked for a change to a large table so we could sit with another couple who went on the cruise with us. We were moved to the Island Dining room at 8:30 each night. We were at table 100 and had a window facing the aft of the ship. We were lucky enough to get an interesting couple to join us. The maitre 'd did an exceptional job of making us feel like old friends. He even gave my husband a cake the last night for a celebration we had while on ship. Our waiter and assistant did a great job and never rushed us since we were the last seating. I must add that the fruit on board was extremely ripe and sweet. We were grateful for the everyday menu listings since we found the nightly menu to have many dishes not to our liking. Our favorite bar was Outrigger's on Deck 15 aft. It was usually quieter than the others and had an outstanding bartender, Uyllsis. He was always willing to talk and share his personal experiences with us as well as to listen. You could often find him twirling his glasses and doing a little dance. We did find Club Fusion to be a poor set up for the entertainment. It was difficult to see what was happening unless you got one of the few up front seats. There were tvs everywhere to watch it, but I didn't go on a cruise to watch tv. We found the entertainers to be very good. We saw all of the comedians, the magician and Fernadez. All were worth seeing. We did not make it to the dance production, opting to see one of the comedians a second time for a different act. He was well worth it. We did book an excursion in St. Maarten. The 4X4 drive. It was to be a narrated trip but the speaker system did not work. This left us all to look around and wonder what we were seeing. The tour guide did try to fix it but in some vehicles it still was broken. The shopping was good, however the trip to Orient beach was at 9:00 am and most people found it too early for swimming and nothing was open on the beach yet. As for the gym on board, we found it quite busy. Often having to wait for weight machines and cardio machines (other than treadmills). The TV screens were nice but not adjustable enough to allow you to move it out of the way if you wanted to watch the ocean instead. The towels were often in short supply. I did not find the gym staff to be as attentful as the rest of the ship. The door on the ladies room was broken and would often open on its own. Overall we found the Caribbean Princess to be a beautiful and welcoming lady. It was a relaxing and wonderful cruise. We believe that with a few more sailings her staff will work out the few bugs she has. We did have a great time meeting new people, like Cruise Critic members. Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
GREAT, WONDERFUL, CRUISING EXPERIENCE! Frame of Reference: (3) couples ages 30-early 40's. Previously sailed on Celebrity and Royal Caribbean. Beautiful ship! Gorgeous! Clean obviously since it was its inaugural sailing. Would not ... Read More
GREAT, WONDERFUL, CRUISING EXPERIENCE! Frame of Reference: (3) couples ages 30-early 40's. Previously sailed on Celebrity and Royal Caribbean. Beautiful ship! Gorgeous! Clean obviously since it was its inaugural sailing. Would not have expected any less. But, cabin steward worked hard and staff seemed to be constantly cleaning. Saw the steward on the first and last day and then communicated by leaving him notes in the room. Did not come away that Princess was a cruise ship for the "older folk" as some may have referred to it in the past. Several families on board but it was near Easter break. I did get to ask one set of parents and their children about the kids programs and they both said it was GREAT! All I can comment on that subject. Our balcony room was just what the Doctor ordered. Can't imagine not sailing without a balcony room and with all the new ships being built with balcony rooms, it appears I am not alone in my belief and that the cruise lines are listening. Cannot tell you enough times, it is worth the extra money! Our room was smaller than that on the Voyager ship but we really didn't care. The service was great! Definitely beat out Royal Caribbean on level of service. We were constantly being greeted in the hallway by crewmembers and I don't care what anyone else says, it does make a difference to have the staff act like they are happy that you are there and that they want your business. From talking to the crew it appears they work fewer hours than staff on some of the other cruise lines (12 rather than 16 hour shifts per day). I was also told the staff had nicer quarters than on some of the other ships. So, it goes to show once again if you take care of your employees, they will in turn take care of your customers. Plenty of things to do on the ship. Many pools and hot tubs. Plenty of deck chairs. Fighting only for those in the "prime" areas, otherwise, you could find one just not in the most desired location. The special classes at sea seemed like a nice touch. Pottery, computer classes, etc. but we did none of them. Why take a computer class on your vacation? Stayed in touch with our daughter via e-mail. Charge of .$30 per minute. There were times when the computers were slow or had trouble getting a connection. Just asked that they be removed from our room charges. No problem. I would have been happier if they had offered their core fitness classes on a daily basis. Couldn't wait to take the lotus fusion class and then found out it was offered on only 2 of the seven days. Thought that was pretty lame. The gym facilities were top notch and I made up for it on the machines but honestly, those classes should have been offered each and every day. The spa was GREAT! Beautiful! Tranquil! Overpriced as usual but that didn't seem to deter anyone. They were always packed. Ordered our massages on-line ahead of time and had no trouble. I had the aromavedic massage. No one ever explained or did anything different during that massage that would verify its classification as aromavedic, so that wasn't too swift. (Sidenote: I have had numerous massages at many top rated facilities and am also well versed in ayurvedic medicine. So, it wasn't like I was clueless going into the situation). No one tried to push any products on me which has happened on cruise lines in the past. But, I also chalked it up to the fact that the therapist spoke very little English. We could barely get through the semantics of a massage, much less do you want to buy this product for $49.95? Only complaint there was that when I checked out they told me about the 15% gratuity charge and I read later it was completely optional. I would have liked to have been asked. I was not and for their lack of courtesy I had the charge removed from our ship account. I think all the ladies in our group agreed Cindy the ship's shopping director was full of "it" and that she and/or the cruise line must be getting some great kickbacks for pushing their passengers to use specific retailers on the islands. In several of those she recommended things were pushed on us as, "Hey buy from us. We are the ones the ship recommends" or they were just down right rude and pushy. For the business they were getting I expected better preferential treatment, but I have no doubt Cindy's own personal jewelry collection is one to behold. I have found in general when cruising, you can usually find things a few dollars cheaper but in the end you can usually find those same items somewhere on the internet for around the same price. As for the port of Cozumel, I can only say go downtown to the Centre where things are substantially cheaper that the shops that corral you in when getting right off the ship. For example we saw beach bags right off the pier for $25 and in downtown we were able to get them for $15. Of course, Mexico is the best place for bargaining. My only real complaints about this cruise were: (1) the drink cards for sodas and (2) Anytime dining. First, the drink cards sounds like a great idea but we found out early on the drink cards were for fountain drinks and were either flat or severely watered down. Eventually, everyone in our group got pissed off about this and by the end of the week were ordering and paying for can sodas. I guess this would be fine if you have kids and normally they don't care what they drink as long as it resembles a soda. And yes, there is some difference to be expected from a fountain drink but not to that degree. I mean a fountain drink offers a high profit margin as it is but add the level at which they were diluting it and they were making a fortune. SECONDLY, the anytime dining. We had always done traditional dining, late seating which usually means 8:00. Fine. We were thrilled to not have to rush to and from anything to make it to dinner, but we soon found out that ANYTIME DINING DOES NOT MEAN ANYTIME. It means anytime will be 10:00 PM because that was the earliest they could get you in for a seating OR you had to make reservations to get in any earlier that than. After the first night we made reservations for the rest of the week at the same time. Which honestly, seems to defeat the whole purpose of anytime dining if that is what you must resort to. We like the concept in theory and would probably choose that option again. Just this time we would rush to the dining room the minute we boarded the ship to make "reservations" for the times we really wanted. We also asked after the first night to return to formal seating at 8:00 and were told the formal seatings were full and it was not possible. Regardless, we survived and all ate way too much food during those 7 days. None died of starvation, but it should be noted that Princess still has a lot of kinks to work out and I hear this is a common complaint on many of the cruise lines that offer this form of dining. As for the actual food. I would say better food than Royal Caribbean but not as good as Celebrity. The shows were varied and good. We seemed to stick to the comedians and that suited us just fine. There was also a hypnotist that was great and would have been even more enjoyable if we could have gotten our spouses out of the casino. Only other gripe is that the purpose of our cruise was for a friend's wedding. We didn't book the wedding through Princess but a private wedding planner in Grand Cayman which was recommended by the Wedding Channel and was much cheaper than Princess. However, ahead of time the bride and groom ordered champagne and spa certificates for each of the guest rooms. Never got them. Then we found out people from home ordered gift items for the bride and groom as well to be delivered to their cabin during the cruise. Never got them either. We also informed at least 2 different people at booking and prior to sailing and then again, when we checked in on the ship and then again to the room attendant so the "wedding party" could get some special treatment. I mean I thought this was the "Love Boat" right? Nothing. I finally called the appropriate guest services the afternoon of their wedding telling them they still had not received anything. They stated basically they wouldn't unless their wedding had been booked through Princess. The gentlemen also said they could put some balloons on their door but they were busy that day since it was a formal night at dinner that evening and could I wait until the next day. I said no and then they eventually got "Happy Captain's Club" balloons. Not a single thing to designate wedding. (But during the week we saw balloons on other cabins saying anniversary, birthday etc.) We did get them a dessert with a candle at dinner once we made it known on three different occasions to the dining room staff. Would have to say, the "Love Boat" seriously dropped the ball on this occasion. I hope these few complaints don't cause you to misinterpret our opinion of Princess or this cruise. No one is perfect and I would hope if Princess or any cruise line for that matter is smart enough to read the message boards on a regular basis to look for ways in which they can improve. Honestly, we had a wonderful time. Ate too much, drank too much and spent too much money. All par for the course in cruising. We would highly recommend this cruise and Princess cruises to anyone. We couldn't necessarily say that after our Royal Caribbean cruise. Would go again in a minute and will more than likely take our 8 year old daughter with us the next time. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
My husband, 55, and myself, 53, celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary by taking our very first cruise. This was the second voyage for the new CARIBBEAN PRINCESS, and we were excited! We are the parents of 7 children and have 4 grandkids, ... Read More
My husband, 55, and myself, 53, celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary by taking our very first cruise. This was the second voyage for the new CARIBBEAN PRINCESS, and we were excited! We are the parents of 7 children and have 4 grandkids, and this is the first "real" vacation we have taken. Embarkation was surprisingly swift, with no problems. Our deluxe stateroom with balcony was lovely, with ample room and storage. Our steward admitted that this was the first trip for her as a steward, but she did very well, fulfilling our every need and keeping our room clean and inviting. The Ship is large and beautiful with at least 17 decks. We were on the 15th Lido deck and heard no noise at all. The food was out of this world. I had been told that food was always plentiful on cruises but not necessarily of great quality. Our food was fitting the 5 stars rating. The Horizon Buffet always had plenty to choose from, be it vegetarian, health-conscious, variety of meats, or downright decadent desserts, and it is always open. The tea and coffee were not quite up to our standards, though. The thin-crust pizza near the pool was also excellent. Very crispy on the bottom, tasty on top, but I wish there wasn't so much grease -- which probably made it taste so good. We were assigned to the Palm dining room, which is an adventure to find, as it is on the other side of the center atrium, and "you can't get there from here" rings true. One must go down to the 7th floor and then walk aft and then go down to the 6th floor. You can't take the elevators straight to the 6th floor from the forward side and find it as the atrium does not run straight through. Our only disappointment was that it took a long time to get served for the regular sit-down dinners. The atrium is beautiful with rounded exposed glass elevators covered with carved-like bronzy whales, porpoises, and other sea life. Winding staircases going to three floors, marble steps, wonderful carpets, and a shopping mall-style hallway grace the center atrium on the promenade deck. My husband's favorite entertainment was Bert Stratton, a singer-pianist who took requests and had singalongs in the open atrium. He was a mixture of Jim Carey, Lurch, and Victor Borga. He definitely walked to the beat of a different drummer, which kept you fully entertained, and his voice was beautiful. We stopped first at Princess Cay (Princess Line private island) where we enjoyed water sports and a barbecue on the beach. Tender ships brought us to shore. Pirates decked out in full garb met us to have pictures taken. It was fun. Our second stop was Montego Bay, Jamaica. This was disappointing, but not entirely without merit. The docking area with shops looks depressed and sad. Taxi drivers ask you every 2 minutes if you want a ride and are VERY hard sell, as are the shop owners. We took a van to Margaritaville (Jimmy BUffet) and had lunch. We shopped in a local shopping center and bought T shirts, etc., but every time you left a shop others were pulling you inside their store, or other taxi drivers were begging you to use their services. It was not relaxing or enjoyable. You realized the people were very poor and desperate. I don't think we will even stop there the next time, but stay on board and enjoy the activities of the ship. Our third stop was to be Grand Caymans, where we hoped to do some snorkeling. The surf was high and the Port Authority closed the port to all six cruise ships that were waiting to enter. We could not land. For that reason our captain decided to move onto our next stop. Our fourth stop was Cozumel, Mexico, which was my favorite. No tender ships are needed as you can make land and disembark right on the dock. Colorfully dressed natives greet you at the ship for pictures. You enter the shopping district through a duty-free mall right on the dock. Beyond the mall in the shopping district there are many shops offering jewelry, t shirts, hand crafts, bags, hats, whatever you would like, most at very good prices. You can have your picture taken with a donkey covered with colorful Mexican rug while wearing a sombrero. We caught a catamaran to do some snorkeling and it was glorious. We sailed to two coral reefs and snorkeled for a couple of hours, seeing very colorful fish, beautiful coral with caves and interesting shapes, sea turtle, large groupers, and scuba divers below. We loved it! On the way home the ship's crew served both alcoholic and soft beverages and fruit. It was a lovely day. Our days at sea were spent exploring the ship, enjoying the MOVIES UNDER THE STARS -- which I loved. Like a big drive-in movie that you watch from a reclining chair at night with the cool breeze and stars overhead, or from the pools or hot tubs! We could dance in many different clubs to whatever kind of music we liked. We missed most of the shows in the theater, as we were dancing, eating, and listening to Bert Stratton. We played bingo and my husband won part of a $200 pot. He was chosen as the one man on the ship to have a makeover (along with two women), and that was filmed and aired after his "reveal" to a roomful of shipmates. THis was to advertise their fancy Lotus Spa and Beauty Shop. Disembarking also went surprisingly fast, with no problems. Oh! One funny moment. Unfortunately, we were late leaving Cozumel because a dozen or so passengers had not made it back to the ship on time. Perhaps the following scenario is played out whenever this happens, but I did not expect it. All the passengers on the DOCK side of the ship went out to their balconies and YELLED at the latecomers as they arrived, "GET YOUR ARSE IN HERE!" YOU'RE KEEPING 3000 PEOPLE WAITING" etc... The vocal ones were laughing and enjoying it, so I guess it was in fun, but the latecomers were either very embarrassed, or jogging triumphantly among the screams as they returned. Next to us was Carnival's Sensation ship, and their passengers also jeered, as they were not allowed to leave the ship until ours had disembarked. It was quite a scene. We had a truly wonderful time on our cruise and can't wait to go back. I would definitely sail Princess again. The staff were all courteous and gracious. The only complaints I heard was that there were too many "kids and teens" aboard who were not being watched, and that they were in the adult pools so the adults could not swim in peace. Personally, we had no trouble as we did not seem to be where the kids were. SO I highly recommend the Caribbean Princess to anyone waning to be pampered on a quality ship with wonderful food and activities. Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
We were on the Inaugural sailing of this magnificent ship. I will always remember coming over the 17th street bridge in Ft. Lauderdale and seeing her, lit and beautiful. We watched her sail out on Friday night for the VIP/Wedding of Jill ... Read More
We were on the Inaugural sailing of this magnificent ship. I will always remember coming over the 17th street bridge in Ft. Lauderdale and seeing her, lit and beautiful. We watched her sail out on Friday night for the VIP/Wedding of Jill Whelan overnight VIP cruise. Embarkation was a breeze considering this was an inaugural. We arrived about 11:30 and stood in a long line but fellow passenger camaraderie was pleasant; everyone was excited! As they opened the doors, everything just seemed to go so smoothly. Princess really does well with embarkations. We had pre-registered on the cruise personalizer page and so went to expedited check-in. We had been upgraded five days before the sailing but the new keys were ready and waiting and we were through the line in under ten minutes. Every passenger did go through security, bags through the machine and people through the metal detector. My tiara, worn for the occasion, did not set off the detector. People were directed right or left, depending on room number. Embarkation photos were taken and a few feet on the security photos were taken. Every single staff member was smiling and polite and helpful. As we entered the atrium I was struck by a sense of deja vu, having sailed on the Golden before. This ship was a sparkling new apparent duplicate of her. The suite was marvelous and we would certainly recommend one to anyone who is considering that level of cabin. We were starboard side, midships, one level below the main pool and Horizon Court. The suite had a huge balcony, approximately 5 x 20 (aft suite balconies are even bigger), with teak furniture: two chaises, a dining table and two chairs, a side table, thick cushions on all of the chairs. We sat out on the balcony and watched the shipyard action, which was pretty interesting. We could see every single bag going into the x-ray area and then coming out to be taken to the rooms. So, yes, they do x-ray them. We had a two part bathroom; one part had the commode and a beautiful green marble vanity with sink, plenty of storage space on either side for his and hers essentials. There was Lotus Spa shampoo, lotion, and conditioner in bottles and pretty soap. The second part of the bathroom, which was separate from the other by a door, had a huge jacuzzi tub and a separate all glass shower. (Having not brought bubble bath I used the shampoo and it worked fine.) The suite itself was two parts, a bedroom with queen bed, two bedside tables, a vanity with ample outlets, a walk in closet with rods for shirts, pants, dresses, etc, shelves in the closet, a safe, and in that part of the room was also a floor to ceiling dresser/wardrobe combo. The other part of the room was the living/entertaining area with a sofa (pull out but we didn't use it as it was the two of us), cocktail table, two end tables, a desk, a wet bar with sink, a refrigerator, and more storage here and there. We didn't use all of the cabinet space we had and we took plenty of stuff. There were two televisions in the suite, one in each section. Decor was muted, soft, and restful, in tones of sage and cream. Heavy drapes at the windows and between the two parts of the room provided privacy and darkness if one wanted to sleep during the day. The ship is amazing and we had no sense of being crowded with the extra 500 passengers on board, and it was a full ship. The deck we were on, Riviera, is the newly added deck. People seemed to just disperse and the whole week was comfortable in terms of crowds. We never had a wait for a table at Horizon Court, there were more deck chairs than could be imagined (the ones by the pool were usually taken but there were chairs everywhere and if you couldn't find a place to sit in the sun you weren't trying}. We went to a couple of minor shows and got seats with no problem. We showed up at a major show late and there were still several seats at the back but we chose to stand rather than disrupt the other passengers. Horizon Court is different on the Caribbean Princess in that it is only open until early evening and then you are directed to Caribe cafe instead. People on the ship did not understand the mechanics of Horizon Court and there was some testiness for the first day or so. By way of explanation, Horizon Court is a "stations" place, meaning it is not a typical buffet line. You can enter from four sides (two port, two starboard) and there are stations, several for salads, several for fruits, several for breads, hot entrees, etc. You go directly to the station that interests you, you do not stand in a long line. Those who were still in the buffet line mentality got pretty upset at those of us who have been on these ships before and know how it is done. For my own peace of mind, I asked a ship's officer (who became our friend) which is the right way and he confirmed you do NOT stand in a buffet line you go where you want to and he promised to advise the Horizon Court supervisor that there was a problem. Anyway, the food there was excellent as always. You can ask to have your eggs fried, poached, whatever, just go to the window between the hot entree stations. I love the salad bar and we usually went up there just before dinner to bring cheese, crackers, fresh veggies, shrimp, etc. back to our room for cocktails on the balcony. We booked traditional late dining and our confirmed reservation had gotten lost. We were, however, quickly seated in spite of this glitch and ended up at a table with other "lost" reservations. It turned out this was just too late for us although the company and the service was fine. We opted from then on to do personal choice. We met Cruise Critic friends and shared a table with them every night at 7 p.m. by asking Mauro, the maitre'd, to set that table aside for us every night, same tablemates, same table number, same waitress and assistant (Cecylia and Stefan). So it turned out to be just like traditional except each night we would have one new set of tablemates as we had two available chairs. We thought the food was excellent and only had a couple of things we thought might have been better prepared (fish). The desserts were to die for, souffles, sorbets, and my personal favorite, pineapple creme brulee (Caribbean Night, which replaces French Night). I loved the asparagus with tarragon butter and our waiter brought an extra and then he brought a whole plate to accompany the entrees. (Yes, I was very appreciative.) We used room service, ordered tea every afternoon (tea, lemon, milk, and some form of sweets), ordered appetizers every evening, had our laundry done (very nice feature), had our dry cleaning done, and have to say that it was all quite painless. We used the concierge line to take care of these things and rarely had a wait to get through. The Caribbean Princess has so many pools, hot tubs, "dipping" pools (that you just get in long enough to cool off from the sun) that is hard to count them. They are fore, midships, aft, on several decks. The Lotus Spa was an experience to be repeated next time we go. I had the AromaVedics massage (choosing the energizing massage oil) and it was so wonderful. Soft music (kind of like you hear in subliminal tapes), dim lights, a view of the sea (when you can keep your eyes open!). I loved the ceramic heated "S" shaped relaxation chairs (available to treatment guests only) and the aromatherapy sauna. The locker room had plush robes, slippers, showers, shampoo. lotion, etc and its own sauna and steam room, which are available to any passenger, treatment or not. The Movies Under the Stars was a lot of fun. They cover the pool (so no swimming while the movies are going on, although they show other stuff during the day for swimmers, kid movies, sports events, rock videos). You get plush deck chairs with "Movies Under the Stars" padding, a blanket, free popcorn, pop and candy at movie theatre prices, and a feature presentation. Just call the front desk or the concierge and ask for tickets because you must have tickets. We visited Explorer's Lounge and highly recommend the chocolate martinis. We also recommend the cocktail of the day and the fizzy beverage of the evening in the dining rooms. All were delicious. Part two will follow: It will include the itinerary and more about the features of the ship itself. Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
We were on the Caribbean Princess for her 4/17 sailing. She is a beautiful ship and our vacation was fabulous. Embarkation - Princess does a great job of getting folks on and off the ship. Even in the ports in which tenders were used ... Read More
We were on the Caribbean Princess for her 4/17 sailing. She is a beautiful ship and our vacation was fabulous. Embarkation - Princess does a great job of getting folks on and off the ship. Even in the ports in which tenders were used (Princess Cay and Grand Cayman), any lines that developed moved very quickly (there was a line to get back on the tender in Grand Cayman that we thought was very long, yet we were on the tender within 5 minutes). Service - Service was impeccable in most cases. There were a few minor exceptions (one of our waitresses in the Coral Dining Room left a little to be desired, but was by far an exception) but nothing I would bother to be concerned about. Our room steward, Marlon, was a gem. Always johnny-on-the-spot, exceptionally friendly and eager to please. One day we went ashore and I left a very nice satin nightgown sitting out (not on purpose, just didn't put it up). He had it on the bed when we returned from our shore excursion...But...when we returned from dinner and our beds were turned down, chocolates on the pillow, etc., he had formed my satin nightgown into a butterfly on the bed! It was so adorable. Just nice little touches that you wouldn't think are necessary but just elevate things to a certain level. Room service was extremely fast - I called for coffee the first morning as soon as I got out of bed (thinking it would take a little time with 3100 people on board) and our coffee was there and delivered right to our balcony in less than 5 minutes. I was surprised and impressed. I never tired of being called "milady" when greeted by certain staff. Food - Sabbatini's food was exquisite and the service matched. One of the (many) appetizers we were served was beluga caviar. The pasta was great, the main dish superb. This is a great experience, and one for which you'd easily pay $125 - $150 in a land-based fine restaurant. The $20 cover charge is not an issue compared to what you receive. Food in the Coral Dining room was very good (not to the level of Sabbatini's, of course, but it was quite enjoyable). We also very much enjoyed the Cafe Caribe. Many new and different dishes, and quite tasty. Don't hesitate to try the goat stew! Entertainment - Entertainment was good overall. The production show, Let's Rock was fun even though some parts came off as being slightly cheesy to us. The magician was kind of offbeat and very good. The hypnotist was good, although it was promised that he wouldn't embarrass anyone - some of the things he made people do would have embarrassed me. We were glad we didn't volunteer. There was a band called Deep Blue that played at the pool - they were a great band (steel drums, Calypso, etc.). Very entertaining, and had us all up doing conga lines, Caribbean line dances, etc. Their music was very fun - they played in the Explorer's Lounge the last night (Friday) and many of their songs were still ringing in our heads on Sunday. Loved it! Ports of Call - We took the banana boat ride in Princess Cays. Do it! It was fun and worth it. I wanted to go again. Jamaica - we took the Countryside Tour with lunch. This tour was not fancy but very worth our time. It included a bamboo raft ride down the Great River, a jitney ride (sort of a wagon that is drawn by a tractor) and tour through a banana plantation, a little lecture on how to make a pina colada using fresh coconut, etc. (and of course free samples of pina colada, banana liqueur, etc. were shared). Lunch was excellent. We liked this tour because even though it is a "touristy" thing to do, it did take us away from the typical beaches and shopping and into the interior. We had a chance to sit and talk with Jamaican people the whole time and we learned a lot about the culture and the people. We loved the laid-back attitude and good conversation. It was a very worthwhile, fun and interesting experience. Grand Cayman - we contracted with Captain Marvin's to take us on the Stingray tour. We'd highly recommend going with a smaller outfit for this excursion. It's about half the price and your boat will have 10-18 people (not 100 to 125). Some on the cruise ship tour were disappointed because they felt they just stood there among the crowd and watched the stingrays swim around them. On ours, however, we had a chance to feed the stingrays (2-3 times, in fact), they were coming right up to us and resting in our arms! I had several pictures taken holding the stingrays. I also have a lot of great underwater shots of the stingrays swimming up against people, etc. My boyfriend had a very moving experience because the stingrays just seemed to love him in particular! (So he's either a very loving person and animals tend to sense that, or he just smells like squid. I think it's the former : ) We also took the semi-submarine tour (booked through the cruise ship) - worth the money. We saw Cheeseburger Reef, the Callie and Balboa shipwrecks. I've heard you see just as much on the semi-submarine as you do on the Atlantis sub (that goes down 100 feet) for less money. Couldn't verify that as we didn't go on the Atlantis sub, but we did enjoy the semi-sub tour. Cozumel - Did the Dolphin Swim - what can I say? They take you in groups of 8 so it is not crowded. A Dolphin Swim is the experience of a lifetime. Do it if you have the $$ - it is worth it. First class operation. We spent most of the rest of our day in Chankanaab Park (skirt steak tacos at the restaurant were heavenly!) and bought a small amount of jewelry (excellent quality and prices, but DO NOT pay the first (or even the second) price they give you). I love the Caribbean topaz and Mexican fire opals - unique and gorgeous! Back to the ship: Overall, I'd say it was a great vacation and I'd highly recommend the Caribbean Princess. We saw nearly all age groups represented. I will say we didn't care for the kind of music they played in the Skywalker's Lounge (hip-hop - I'd rather dance to the classic rock stuff if you're going to use a DJ) but the view of Caribbean Princess's wake was magnificent even at night. Besides, there were so many other options that it was no biggie. The ship wasn't crowded even though it was fully booked. We had no trouble finding lounge chairs (had to grab one a little away from the pool on the second day at sea, but otherwise always found what we needed). I've seen some comments on the Anytime Dining. We booked our reservations for the week on the first day. We did notice that some folks had to wait, but it seemed that many of them were set on a table for 2 only (there are only so many of those). It's like any restaurant - if you come at peak dinner hour, they'll give you a pager and you'll wait for a time unless you've made a reservation in advance. I think the situation seems to be smoothing out. I used the Lotus Spa, but only for a mid-week nail polish change. They ran on time, were friendly and efficient. They do automatically add gratuity, which is okay for me since gratuity is customary for this type of service. The gym was great and well-equipped. Nice exercise bikes and the resistance training machines were top notch. The free weight area was a bit small - boyfriend said the few guys in there were ducking one another's weights. Also, the movies under the stars were fun and relaxing. There were several different movies playing throughout the week. We enjoyed lying under the blankies watching the movie with a gentle breeze in our faces. They pass out popcorn and sell typical movie-type candies at the bar (and, as always, drinks). So now here I am back at work and I seem to be classically conditioned as it is 2 p.m. and I suddenly want a large pina colada. Ah well....there's always next year. Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
CARIBBEAN PRINCESS, APRIL 10, 2004 My 55-y/o husband and myself (53) celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary by taking our first cruise, and chose the new Caribbean Princess as our vessel. This was to be only the second sailing for this ... Read More
CARIBBEAN PRINCESS, APRIL 10, 2004 My 55-y/o husband and myself (53) celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary by taking our first cruise, and chose the new Caribbean Princess as our vessel. This was to be only the second sailing for this ship, a 7-day trip. We booked through an online agency and paid $897 each plus port charges and insurance, etc. We left from Ft. Lauderdale and our ports of call included Princess Cay (Princess Line private island), Montego Bay Jamaica, Grand Cayman Island, and Cozumel, Mx. Embarkation We flew into Ft. Lauderdale from Baltimore, had arranged for Princess bus transfer from airport to ship, and had absolutely no problems. The lines moved quickly inside the ship terminal and we were onboard and ready to explore in good time, even though it was Easter weekend. Atrium Upon entering the ship, the promenade deck with its center 3-floor atrium is breathtaking. There are clear rounded elevator shafts covered with bronzy-looking carvings of sea life - whales, dolphins, vegetation, shells, etc...extending three decks, under which you see the elevator move three floors. Beautiful. Each exposed deck is beautiful, with gracefully curved stairways. There are many shops to entice you to spend your vacation dollars. There are needed sundry shops and clothing shops, cosmetics shops, coffee shop, jewelry shops, purser's desk, etc. all surrounding the atrium. There is a nearby computer room for emailing home at 30 cents/minute. Stateroom Our balcony stateroom was on the Lido deck, 9 rooms aft from the bridge. We found it to be beautiful and roomy with plenty of storage and closet space. We heard absolutely no noise from the Lido deck or from the exercise room above. Our stateroom had many mirrors around the walls, and was tasteful in dEcor, color, and fabric. There was a queen bed, flanked by two nightstands, a desk with chair, a three-tired mini-frige, bar, and TV stand, and side chair. The bathroom was more than adequate and had plenty of water pressure for all necessities. There was a pull-out clothesline in shower. The vanity area in the bathroom had an adequate counter, and three rounded shelves going up the wall to hold personal items. Outside the bathroom there was a closet area that had a large rod with long deep shelf over top, floor space for shoes. There was also long narrow built in with 5-6 shelves to hold more clothing or personal items, and it included a safe for valuables. Our stateroom had sliding doors opened onto a balcony complete with a table and two chairs (plastic). We spend quite a bit of time out there, loving every second. We would take coffee there in the morning and read or "Princess Patter" to chose our activities for the day. Food The food was 4 stars and plentiful. The Horizon and Caribe buffets were very good, and never ran out of anything. The offerings included something for all palates - vegetarian, meat-lovers, sweet tooth. There were fruits and veggies, rice and pasta, lots of meats and cheeses, soups, breads, Italian, Asian, American, Eastern -- you name it, it was there! The self-serve coffee and tea could have been better. There was only milk at breakfast for cereal. The Caribe was open later in the evening and included a Bistro into the wee hours of the morning. The Caribe was a little more exotic, offering lamb and couscous and such fare. We were assigned to the Palm Restaurant for dinner. This was a challenge to find, as "you cannot get there from here" without going from bow to aft, up and down, using elevator and stairs. I think this was because the atrium cuts across the center of the ship. The food here was very, very good. The menu was also comprehensive, but you could also order things not on the menu, like a steak if you so desired. Our only complaint was that dinner serving took entirely too long. You best be ready for a relaxing conversation with your tablemates as you wait for the entire meal to be served. My husband always hit the buffet first to stave off his appetite anticipating the long wait at the dinner table. There were also some "specialty restaurants" for which you could pay extra, like a steakhouse, an Italian restaurant, and one other I can't remember, but we did not try these as the steak ordered off menu in the Palm was exceptional and we were perfectly happy with the "included food." On the Lido Deck near the pools was a pizza oven with very good thin crust pizza. There was also a sandwich grill for hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries, and other fair. There was a "scoops" ice cream shop, but you had to pay $3.50 for that. If you wanted soda, you could pay (about $25?) for a sticker on your cruise card which would give you unlimited fountain soda. Otherwise they were about $2 each. They gave you a narrow thermal cup for this to be refilled, but It held so little, that we just asked for the large size fountain sodas, showed our sticker, and got them. Entertainment We loved the new Movies Under the Stars located on the Lido deck. It is like a drive-in movie theater where you lie in your deck chairs, each covered with special padded body-length "Movies under the Stars" cushions and afghans. The gentle night breeze and swaying ship was so nice while watching a first-run movie. We did not go to the Princess theater to see any of those shows. We understood that there was equipment missing when we had to forego our stop at Grand Cayman and the Broadway-style show was limited. Richard Hatch was there to speak (First winner of Survivor). We only caught him while passing by to another venue. The bands at the various clubs were exceptional. We especially liked the fifties music in the Fusion lounge and danced to that. There was also a very nice Caribbean band on the Lido deck and a 70s type band in the Explorer's lounge. On the 17th deck in the Skywalker Lounge was the nightclub for the younger crowd. We went up there during the day to check out the look of the place, and it was quite impressive! My husband's favorite entertainment was a piano-player/singer taking requests in the open atrium. His name is Bert Stratton and he can be found at a web site with just his name. He was a mixture of Jim Carey (humor and facial expressions), Victor Borge (humor and piano), and Lurch! He could play most any song from any era you wanted, and had so much energy that he "whipped his crowd into a frenzy" during the singalongs. Don't miss him. We did not go into any of the pools. The only complaints we heard from others was that there were too many unsupervised kids on this trip getting into the adult areas. We had no such problem ourselves, but overhead others complaining about interruption of bridge games in the Jokers card room where kids were playing loud board games, and kids getting into the adult hot tub/pool areas. My husband won part of a $200 pot at bingo so that was fun. The casino is large and impressive, and there are lots of nickel and quarter machines as well as the higher-priced ones. Exercise/SPA The Lotus Spa is a full service salon and massage service. There is also a ton of state-of-the art exercise equipment in a lovely exercise area. My husband ran the jogging track, but found it to be too small (0.10 mile) and that each curve had you running into people just hanging out on the track. My husband won a "makeover" (haircut and style) which was filmed and shown all day long on the Ship TV, and that was fun. Excursions Princess Cay - Needed tenders to land. Lots of fun with water sports. Nice barbecue served in pavilions right on the beach. There are local craftspeople selling baskets, clothing, jewelry, etc. Lovely day. Montego Bay, Jamaica - No tenders needed. Docking port shopping center depressed area. Taxi drivers are WAY TO AGGRESSIVE in demeanor and in driving, even the "official red-tagged ones." Shop owners are equally in your face and pressuring you to buy. Not a relaxing stop. Probably would have been better to take a ship tour to a specified site. We took cab to shopping area and then to Jimmy Buffets Margaritaville. Now we can say we were there, but it was pretty much a dive. Hamburger $8. Free long tube slide into water with floating docks. Overpriced souvenir shop. I understand the one on the other side of the island is better in location and atmosphere. Might stay on the ship next time. Grand Cayman Island - Such a disappointment. We could not land because the sea was too high and the port authority closed the port to all tenders. We had planned to do snorkeling. We will have to go back some day! I understand this is a beautiful port of call. Cozumel, MX - This was great. The ship docks directly, no tenders needed. You exit the dock through a building full of duty-free offerings - alcohol, jewelry, candy, vanilla, etc. Once through this building you are out among the shops where you can buy vendor T-shirts, crafts, silver, clothing, bags, jewelry, etc. Prices are reasonable. There is a mock-up of Mayan ruins with waterfall. There are eating places and resting places. There are costumed locals ready to pose for pictures. There are thatched-roofed huts doubling as kiosks. We caught a large 50-person catamaran for a sail/snorkel excursion. It was glorious! We enjoyed the sailing and the snorkeling over two different coral reefs. The crew was great, especially for me, who was nervous, and needed a gentle hand and encouragement. Once in the water I had a wonderful time, and even saw a good-sized sea turtle along with the beautifully colored fish and reefs. Below us divers encompassed us with tickling champagne-like bubbles. We snorkeled for up to 2 hours (wear sunscreen or T-shirt!), and then enjoyed a relaxing sail back to port with complementary alcoholic or soft beverages and fresh fruit. What a wonderful day! That evening about a dozen people were late getting back from their various excursions (probably not boat-sponsored), and held up the ship. We were supposed to leave port an hour earlier. I had returned to my stateroom exhausted from snorkeling and dozed off. Shortly afterwards I was awakened by loud shouts and whistles. As the latecomers began to arrive back to the ship, the people on the dock side all ran to their balconies and shouted at them, "Come On, Pokey! you're Holding up 3000 people! Nice of you to JOIN us! Move Your Arse!" I could not believe it! Next to us was the Carnival ship Sensation. Their passengers could not get off until our ship left, and we could not leave until out latecomers were aboard, so THEY started shouting too! Actually, it was pretty funny. The latecomers were quite embarrassed. One man was obviously furiously arguing with his wife for making them late as they hurried back onboard to the many shouts. Maybe this is common practice for those who delay a ship, but it was new to me! I guess they won't be late again! DISEMBARKATION This went smoothly and without a hitch. Very well organized. Long lines moved quickly. OVERALL PROS AND CONS The Caribbean Princess is a beautiful ship. The rooms are roomy and tastefully appointed. I highly recommend a balcony. The staff was congenial and helpful. The food was exemplary. The entertainment was of good quality. The excursions varied, and I would recommend each person research them to make the right choice. The Movies under the Stars was great. There is much to do for people of all ages. Parents should be more accountable for younger children who are in areas where they do not belong. Dinner was delicious but slow. We will definitely sail with Princess again! Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
we boarded the Caribbean princess april 17th which was originally to be its first sailing and we had a ball! The ship itself is beautiful, super huge with lots of people but it always feels empty. staff that must hide in the wood work or ... Read More
we boarded the Caribbean princess april 17th which was originally to be its first sailing and we had a ball! The ship itself is beautiful, super huge with lots of people but it always feels empty. staff that must hide in the wood work or something for you never see them unless you need them ... then they are right there. the nightly entertainment was great ....especially the comic and the piano player Burt. I know I didn't get to see all of the shows because there are a couple different venues that perform at the same time and not to mention the movies under the stars with the free popcorn that is passed around as you are bundled up on your cozy lounge chair with pillow and blanket that is there waiting for you under the stars nightly. We choose the western itinerary for all the very active ports of call and were extremely impressed with the excursion companies that Princess works with. Great people who are highly organized...unlike what we saw going on for other people who went on other types of ships. in jamaica we did Dunn's rivers falls and we were protected by the money hounding locals by our guide. grand cayman, we did the highlights and snorkeled with the sting ray.. our guide found the perfect spot and treated us so well compared to other boat captains who were treating their passengers like cattle. Cozumel...we did Tulum and xel ha... the ruins are sooooo hot that all we wanted to do was get in the water so when the driver took us to xel ha we were more than ready to do our snorkeling. but the driver was so knowledgeable that it was completely worth getting that hot at the ruins. my family and i had such a terrific time that we are booked on another princess cruise for next year...this time the Golden, Southern Caribbean for now my family is hooked ! Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
I just got back the ground is still rocking! In a nutshell if you're looking for relaxation, this cruise is not for you. It was our first cruise and there was so much to do we sometimes stood there for an hour trying to figure out ... Read More
I just got back the ground is still rocking! In a nutshell if you're looking for relaxation, this cruise is not for you. It was our first cruise and there was so much to do we sometimes stood there for an hour trying to figure out what to do next. Embarkation was a breeze, Princess does it right! The islands were OK, but not the highlight of the trip unless you like to shop for jewelry (there is TONS of it at the ports) or you like to sit in the blazing sun on the beach. We booked one excursion at Grand Cayman, NOT through Princess and saved a bundle of money. We paid $52 per person for an all day snorkeling trip including lunch, equipment and Sting Ray City which is not to be missed. We used Captain Marvin's and they were absolutely wonderful. I highly recommend them. Their website is http://www.captainmarvins.com. They were wonderful, friendly and two guys who ran our boat were very friendly and nice. The ship is very big and impressive without feeling too big or crowded. The food was outstanding! Lounge chairs were always available and our trip was booked solid! Some (not all) of the crew seemed distant and very burned out. I guess I would too if I worked 7 days a week straight for 9 months, which is what alot of them told us when we asked about their schedules! Some of them were robot like. We had a balcony room on the Caribe Deck that was was a bit cramped but with lots of storage space. I brought an over the door shoe holder for the bathroom door. It worked great and saved alot of space. If you're like me you're reading every scrap you can find about the ship and cruising. I was relentless. The reviews helped and the cruisecritic Roll Call message boards were invaluable. I even met alot of them on the ship thanks to Tina Lee who set up a get together on the first night! All in all, a great experience and I would recommend it to anyone, bring alot of patience and grains of salt with you though....you need it on ANY vacation.... Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
This was our first cruise and we can't believe we waited so long. What a fabulous way to travel. We felt like we were treated like royalty! The food choices and preparation were superb and we especially like the way we could choose ... Read More
This was our first cruise and we can't believe we waited so long. What a fabulous way to travel. We felt like we were treated like royalty! The food choices and preparation were superb and we especially like the way we could choose from a variety of options. We were impressed by the placement of hand-sanitizers at the buffet! The stage shows were excellent and we enjoyed several. The only two "minor" negatives were the stop at Princess Cays (a tourist trap) and the fact that we could only enjoy our balcony on a few occasions, due to the people smoking "upwind" from us and our otherwise wonderful sea air was too polluted to breath. We would suggest that Princess Cruise Line book the smokers on one side of the ship and the non-smokers on the other, or put the SMOKERS aft and the NON's forward. That way we can both enjoy the outdoors equally. We would have loved to have left our sliding glass door open all night, to hear the sea and the fresh air; but alas the smokers always ruined that plan for us. All-in-all we had a wonderful experience and can't wait to get onto another cruise ship. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
This was my first cruise and I traveled without my husband and children for a real getaway. Just a girlfriend and I were looking to relax and enjoy a week without obligations. Let start by saying that I would have been happy no matter ... Read More
This was my first cruise and I traveled without my husband and children for a real getaway. Just a girlfriend and I were looking to relax and enjoy a week without obligations. Let start by saying that I would have been happy no matter where we went and that my expectations were low. A good book and some sun and down-time would have been enough to feel like a treat. I was very impressed with the organization and efficiency with which Princess handled the large number of people and the daunting task of maintaining the high level of security required these days. They were pleasant and accommodating every step of the way. ROOMS- People talk about the small rooms. It is true that they are generally smaller than the comparable hotel rooms would be. Ours was an outside double with balcony. We found that it had plenty of space for the storage of all our belongings as well as our general comfort. It was clean and well appointed.I even felt that if were to cruise again with princess, I would probably not bother to pay more for the mini-suite ( the next size up ) even if money wasn't an issue.A balcony, however, is a geat idea. We enjoyed having the slider open at night so we could sleep to the sounds of the water splashing around the ship as we cruised. Coffee on the balcony in the morning and a cocktail in the evening was a nice indulgence. The ship itself is beautiful. From the atrium and shops, to the pools, dining areas and various lounges, the decor is lovely and sparkling clean. It took a day or two to feel our way around but it was fun to keep discovering new areas. FOOD- The food was very good, although not 5-star. The horizon court buffet which stays open all day and I think all night ( I wasn't up in the wee hours of the morning to find out) provided a wide selection of dishes to suit most tastes and offered the convenience of being available whenever we just felt like grabbing a bite or when we didn't feel like going to the main dining rooms. We did the anytime dining option and could choose whether we wanted to brave sitting at a table of strangers or dine alone. Twice we sat with a group. Once we had a nice time with several couples and the other time we sat with a group that was pretty dull and mismatched. An obvious risk. We also ate at the Desert Rose which involves a surcharge. It was practically empty but the food was very good.In general the wait-staff was pleasant and efficient. Early in the cruise a bulletin was sent to all the rooms alerting us to a break-out of the Norwalk virus. Initially we were alarmed, but I have to say we were impressed with the way princess sprang into action to limit it's spread. Suddenly the situation changed in the buffet areas. Rather than being self-serve, they now had attendants at each station to serve you. They wore gloves and required us to rinse our hands with a disinfecting solution before entering the buffet. Being a medical person, I was relieved to see this because I know that this is just the kind of stringent approach required to stave off a wide spread outbreak of a very contagious virus. It did detract a little from the carefree atmosphere you want to associate with a vacation, but in all likelyhood it probably saved us from an otherwise miserable cruise. Apparently a few fellow passengers had been quarantined. I believe strongly that this immediate action on the part of Princess was commendable and apparently successful because that was the last we heard about the outbreak. POOLS- The pools were lovely and I noted that there was a wait-person available about every 3 minutes to serve up cocktails or sodas. You didn't have to wait or want for anything. People complain in the reviews about the practice of reserving chaise lounges around the pool areas even though this is expressly forbidden by the signs nearby. It is true that it could be difficult to find a chair during the prime times, but not impossible and only if you have to be right next to the pool. There are plenty of chairs in the sun all over the ship if you just check around. ACTIVITIES- There are numerous activities going on all around the ship all the time. Bingo was fun. Horse-racing was fun. I have to say though that the casino seemed to be less profitable than most. It's just my sense but, in my limited experience at Atlantic City and Foxwoods on the slots, the yield was a lot lower on the ship than usual. Others seemed to feel the same. The art auctions occurred every day but I have to say that after walking through the galleries just to peruse, I never saw such hideous paintings in my life. Somewhere along the lines of the famous poker playing dogs or a black velvet Elvis. I supposed they appealed to somebody though. We didn't do any shows but I heard they were good. THE ISLANDS- St. Maartens was great. We did a morning excursion called the Golden Eagle Out-Island Sail. It was a large catamaran that took us to Tantamar, a deserted island about a 45 minute sail from St. Maartens. The crew was great and a lot of fun. They served drinks and on the way back, sandwiches too. The snorkeling was very good and the crew went out on a dinghy to feed the fish and bring them our way. On the return trip they donned little black bowties to serve us champagne and even sang YMCA for us. They played great classic rock and roll songs ( Stones, Van Morrison, Buffet, Eagles) on the ride home which got everyone singing and made the atmosphere special. In the afternoon we shopped and bought some jewelry. All the jewelers negotiate price so hold out for your best deal. I strongly recommend Dynasty Jewelers. Ask for a man named Tinku. He was recommended to me by a friend who goes to St. Maartens several times a year and has gone there for years. He gave us a very good deal and offered us drinks while we waited to have our rings sized. Do your excursions in the morning and shop in the afternoon. Otherwise your morning will be rushed if you have to get back to the ship for 12:00 excursion and you can't shop anyway till about 9:00. St Thomas was ok. We shopped in the morning but only briefly since we did the ST. John's champagne sail in the afternoon. It wasn't as good as the Golden Eagle, but it was still nice. The snorkeling was good. The island itself seems to be deteriorating. The poverty is striking. Princess Cays was fun. It is pretty and offers water sports etc. They served us lunch at their grill which was dogs, chicken, burgers and some side dishes. Nothing special but certainly fine. THE SPA/FITNESS CENTER- We both had massages. My friend did the hot rock massage and I did the Lotus ritual. We each agreed they were the best massages we had ever had. The only drawback is that when it is over, they try to "recommend" (translation-sell) you all kinds of very expensive products that they try to convince you are a must for you particular skin needs. I hate that kind of pressure and resisted hard to avoid spending an extra $300 or so above the $210 plus tip that I already spent on the massage. The fitness center has a ton of great equipment. The treadmills, however, are in big demand and if you want one you should sign up for one ahead of time. I really enjoyed swimming against the current in the lap pool. It worked well and not as many people seemed to want it so I could always get it. THE STAFF-Our steward, Augie, was sweet, attentive, and a pleasure to see each day. The cruise director, Graham, is a very funny man and seems to enjoy his job thoroughly. I have to say that I've always liked the British style of humor and since a lot of the staff are British and seemed to like interjecting humor everywhere possible, it made the cruise that much better. Even the overhead announcements were funny. Be sure to tune in to channel 21 in the morning and watch Graham and Gavin go over the activities listed in the Patter each day. They are hysterical and add a few more details to help you understand your choices better. A downside to the staff is that even though gratuities are added in to your bill automatically , there is still that awkward moment after signing your receipt when they are clearly waiting for an additional tip over and above. I imagine this is not particular to Princess staff members per se, but I do resent it. If someone is especially good at their job, I don't mind supplementing the tips, but everyone seems to feel entitled. ONE REALLY BAD ASPECT- While overall the cruise was great I have to say that one thing nagged at us the whole time. Every step of the way, you feel as though you are being "nickled and dimed" for extra expenses that aren't included in your "all-inclusive package". Make no mistake about it. Your bill can nearly double during the trip without your even realizing it. A lot of things cost extra, including bottled water. Even though we bought a $22 package the first day that allegedly gave us unlimited sodas, it doesn't include bottled water and virgin drinks cost almost as much as ones with alcohol. All the activities like bingo, cost extra. Of course the daily gratuity that is added and the additional costs of excursions, massages, etc. add up.The shops on the Golden are a bit of a rip off, especially jewelry. Buy it on the islands where you can barter. The Princess shops don't barter. Room service is included but don't forget that your waiter will expect a tip. While standing at the pursers desk to go over my bill, everyone around me seemed to have racked up an additional $1000 or so during the week. Each of us amassed about $1200 in extra costs. Just be prepared. PASSENGERS- Well they weren't as old and doddering as I had heard cruise passengers could be. We had quite a few college-aged kids and families with children. The presence of children wasn't overwhelming and I would say the vast majority of people were about 35 to 55 yrs old. A good group I would say unless you are looking for a wild alcohol-guzzling spring break type of experience. You would probably be better off on Carnival cruise lines if thats what you want.( from what I've heard) Princess seems fairly classy yet not stuffy or boring. They did do some drinking games by the pool and had belly-flop contests etc. that were amusing. And again, they aren't afraid to have a sense of humor and poke fun at you or themselves. WOULD I DO IT AGAIN- Absolutely! And I think I might stick with Princess. The good far outweighed the bad and I can't help but think that Princess comes as close to being perfect as is humanly possible.I now can imagine all the things that could go wrong with a group this large and as I said earlier Princess does a beautiful job handling these types of situations. It is obvious the effort they put out to eliminate as many inconveniences as possible and to go the extra distance above and beyond the basics. This is what they claim to do and it shows. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
Our cruise on the Golden Princess was our 25th cruise so we do have a basis for comparison. Our cruise departed Ft Lauderdale on 3/13 and the destinations were St Martin, St Thomas and Princess Cay. Just prior to leaving on our cruise I ... Read More
Our cruise on the Golden Princess was our 25th cruise so we do have a basis for comparison. Our cruise departed Ft Lauderdale on 3/13 and the destinations were St Martin, St Thomas and Princess Cay. Just prior to leaving on our cruise I read a review on the Golden Princess which was written by a very unhappy cruiser who had sailed the same itinerary on 2/4/2004. Based on that review I was not looking forward to our cruise. That review was way off the mark. Our cruise on the Golden Princess was one of the best that we have in the 25 previous cruises we have taken. Starting at the begriming, embarkation was very smooth. We arrived at the port and within 30 minutes we were in our cabin. We had one of the mini-suites on the Dolphin deck. The cabin was well laid out, had plenty of room and had a balcony. If there was one thing that could have been improved, it was that the balcony did not have a cover so it was wide open to all of the cabins above us. This did not bother me, but did bother my wife. Our cabin attendant James was the best we have ever had. We had requested traditional dining, but there was a waiting list, so we did not get it and had personal choice dining. We were very happy with personal choice dining in the Donatello dining room. We had the a standing reservation each evening at 6:30pm at the same table. This permitted us to to get to the early show each evening. The operation of the Donatello dining room was the best that we have ever experienced. It was extremely professional (a five start dining experience). There was no interrupting our dinner while the dining room staff sang songs or paraded around the dining room with baked alaska. It has a real 5 star feel and the food choices, preparation and presentation were superb. Our waiter (Valentina) was superb. The entire dining room staff deserves a lot of credit. Next time we will request personal choice dining. The Lido provided excellent choices and again the food was very high quality for a cafeteria. The theater shows were not the best we have seen, but they were certainly better than most. We enjoyed the two musical groups that performed in the Wheelhouse Bar and the service was also excellent . Of course St Martin and St Thomas were great destinations. They are two of our favorites. We did not take any tours as we have been to both of these places many times. Princess Cay is beautifully done and a great place to just lay back and relax. Princess has done a great job with this island. It is better than most cruise line islands. Would we go on the Golden Princess again? You bet we would. We have cruised on many different cruise lines and ships and this one was among the very best. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
Just arrived home from our cruise on the Golden, wanted to post a review while everything was still fresh in my mind. We arranged our airfare on our own online through Spirit Airlines, we booked to leave on Friday March 19th. Our flight ... Read More
Just arrived home from our cruise on the Golden, wanted to post a review while everything was still fresh in my mind. We arranged our airfare on our own online through Spirit Airlines, we booked to leave on Friday March 19th. Our flight was supposed to leave at 7:20 AM, Chicago O'Hare to Fort Lauderdale, unfortunately, due to bad weather on the East Coast the day before, our flight was delayed and we didn't depart until 10:30 AM, we had arrived at the airport at 5:30 AM, we were disappointed that Spirit did not contact us to let us know about the delay, but all in all, it wasn't too bad waiting, after all, I was going on a cruise! They did provide all the waiting passengers, free snacks and drinks. The flight was smooth and uneventful, landed in Fort Lauderdale at 2:30 PM. We had booked our hotel through Priceline and stayed at the Holiday Inn Fort Lauderdale Beach. This hotel is directly across the street from the ocean, we traveled during the peak season of Spring Break so traffic from the Airport to the hotel was horrendous, traffic was stop and go all the way. After checking in, we went to check out our room, we had requested a nonsmoking room with 2 double beds, this is what we received, this room did have a nice view of the ocean, too bad we could not open the windows to let the fresh sea air into the room. This hotel was OK, room was clean, it's very basic and I'm glad we used Pricline and only paid $75.00, other guests at the hotel were paying $259.00 per night!! We ate breakfast at the restaurant, food was OK, but very expensive. We had arranged to be picked up at the hotel at 11:30 AM by a limo company, we used a limo instead of a taxi due to the 4 people and 8 pieces of luggage plus our carry ons, we would have had to take 2 taxis instead of 1. Driver was early, he arrived at 11:00, I was in the lobby waiting in line to check out when he arrived. Dear husband and my son brought the luggage down and helped the driver get it all into the limo, thankfully, the driver had a bungee cord so all the luggage was able to fit into the trunk and not in the car with us. We were finally on our way to begin our cruise! Arrived at Port Everglades at 11:45 AM, no traffic into the port at this time, there was a very long line waiting to enter the Princess Terminal, the doors were opened at Noon and embarkation took all of 10 minutes, we had express check in and were in our stateroom (BA balcony room Caribe deck #326) by 12:20 PM. My two teens had an inside cabin C328 right across the hall. Our room was adequate, the balcony was wonderful, because, we were on Caribe deck our balcony was deeper than other BA cabins. I would highly recommend a balcony cabin on this deck. Our Room Steward was Henry Yohanon from the Philippines, he took very good care of our cabins on this trip. We had planned a get together with fellow cruisers from the Cruise Critic Board, we met at the Tradewinds Bar on Sun deck #15, many of the posters showed up and we all had a fun time. It was wonderful to meet everybody and put faces with names. We also had a Sea Day Party from the Cruise Critic Board arranged for the first sea day at 3 PM. I had arranged in advance through my TA (thanks Lori & Jenn!!) to use Skywalkers Nightclub, asked for a bartender for a cash bar and I also ordered some munchies. Princess certainly shined here!! I was very impressed!! They made signs for our party, had a manager meet and greet all the guests, they had a bartender and waiters for us, the food was beautifully prepared and presented (and delicious!). Music was playing in the background as well. I did not expect all this, I just wanted a private place to meet with fellow Cruise Critics, Princess really helped make this party very special. Thanks Princess!! We ate breakfast through Room Service or Horizon Court, we did have one breakfast in the dining room. Lunches were mostly at Horizon, once in the dining room and a few times for pizza or burgers by the pool, OK pizza, it needed more cheese, burgers and knockwurst were surprisingly very good, fries and onion rings were excellent. Horizon buffet was OK, good selection, especially the fresh fruits and salads, some of the hot food was only warm, the food overall was very tasty. In the buffet, they have cleanser to wash your hands before you are handed your plate and eating utensils, I was glad to see this as I was a bit concerned about getting the Norovirus, happily, nobody came down with this virus during this voyage. The buffet was crowded during lunch, the staff onboard very, very polite and cleaned off the tables immediately. We had chosen Personal Choice dining and we were very pleased with this, no waiting except on the last formal night (lobster night), had to wait 45 minutes for a table, we didn't mind, we sat at the Lobby Bar and had a cocktail before our dinner. We usually ate at 6:00 or 6:30PM, we ate dinner a bit later on the second formal night (7:00PM), I think that's why we had to wait. I was very happy to learn that Princess has added more souffles to their dessert menu! They had hazelnut souffle, the harlequin souffle and one that had Grand Mariner, cannot remember the name, all were delicious. I also tried for the first time, the chilled peach soup, it was excellent. It's like having dessert in the middle of your meal. Dining room dinners were excellent! Never had a bad dinner, hubby said the fish dishes were cooked perfectly, service was very good as well. We did eat dinner at the Desert Rose, service and the food were excellent, the $8.00 cover charge included a Margarita. Unfortunately, Princess, is replacing this fine restaurant with a Sterling Steakhouse, when she is in dry dock. The ship itself is in great condition, everything was sparkling clean, there was always somebody cleaning, the crew was always very friendly and polite, I was always greeted with a smile. We had a total of 3 sea days, pools were busy but didn't see many chair hogs. Princess now has little signs that are stuck on the back of the lounge chairs stating that if you are not occupying the chair for 30 minutes, your belongings can be taken off the chair and put into the lost and found. On Thursday, the last sea day, all the pools were closed, this was due to very rough seas, the water was sloshing right out of the pools. Didn't go to any of the production shows, I had already seen "Lights, Camera Action" previously, when I was on the Grand. We did see the Comedians "Sarge" and Stu Moss, both were very funny. We tried to see Bert Stratton, but it was always very crowded, his show was very popular. Did go to see the movies Master and Commander and The Last Samurai in the Princess Theater. Didn't go to the casino, but I heard the slots were very tight. I am a non-smoker and I was never bothered by cigarette smoke anywhere on the ship. We had 2 teens traveling with us, our daughter age 17 and son, age 16. They were both registered in the Teen Center, my son didn't use the Teen Center, my daughter did, she was a bit bored with it, but soon met other teens her age and she then had a blast. We didn't see her until dinner and immediately after, she left to be with her new found friends. We did one excursion through Princess on St. Maarten, we booked the Rhino Rider Tour, we did have a blast. One word of caution, this excursion should not be taken by somebody who has a bad back. The boats are flat bottomed, so after you ride over the wave, you do come crashing down and this does jar the back. They took us to Happy Bay a tiny beach for snorkeling, but due to the wind and high waves, we were unable to snorkel. Did a little shopping bought some chocolates from the Belgian Chocolate shop, these are THE best chocolates I have ever eaten!! We booked a tour with Godfrey on St. Thomas, he picked us up at the ship, then dropped us off downtown for shopping, picked us up again for an island tour, then you had your choice of stopping at Coki, Sapphire or Megans Point beaches for 2 hours of sunning, swimming or snorkeling. It was a wonderful tour and it only costs $20 per person. I would highly recommend his tour. We had a wonderful cruise. The only downside was the rough seas. I was seasick Sunday morning and on Thursday morning, thankfully, I was feeling poorly for a few hours, I had read someplace that if you are feeling sick, to eat slices of green apple, which I did and which actually made me feel better. I also took Bonine, but that made me feel very tired. Sorry, this is so long, if anybody has any questions, please feel free to e-mail me. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
Greetings: I'm just off the March 20th sailing of the Golden Princess to St. Martin, St. Thomas and Princess Cay. I'm going to summarize my experience, and then go into details towards the bottom. Summary: This is my second ... Read More
Greetings: I'm just off the March 20th sailing of the Golden Princess to St. Martin, St. Thomas and Princess Cay. I'm going to summarize my experience, and then go into details towards the bottom. Summary: This is my second cruise on Princess, and my third cruise overall. I would rate this cruise a 9 out of 10. I took .8 points for the food in Horizon Court, and 0.2 points for our wait staff at Dinner. I would definitely repeat this cruise on this boat. I would treat the day in St. Martin as an additional Sea Day, and I would make sure that I did not have table #252 in the Donatello dining room. I found that purchasing alcohol in St. Thomas at the AHRise store was cheaper than doing so on the boat, but if you only wanted a bottle or two, or were pressed for time, purchasing from Princess was very competitive. I found that for watches < $150, the shop on the boat was very competitive, and my wife purchased a set of earrings that were about the same as what she found in both St. Maartin and St. Thomas. The boat did not stock watches > $150, and the jewelry on board was pretty low end as well. I found that Princess was competitive on what they stocked, and you could find lower prices, but you would have to shop in stores that might give you second thoughts about quality. Top Side entertainment. This sailing had pretty lousy weather. Just about every night we averaged seas of 3-5 feet, and on both formal nights, the seas reached 7-10 feet. The stabilizers on the boat were terrific. However, things were a little dicey getting around, and the entire boat looked like it was drunk. Even the crew was having a rough time, so you know it was pretty bad. The bad weather made getting loungers kind of tough, because when the weather was clear, everyone wanted to be outside. All the loungers had signs stating that if the towel was left for > 30 minutes, then it would be removed. I did not do much sunbathing on the top deck as I used my balcony instead, so I can not attest as to whether or not the deck crew moved towels, but when I was up and about, I did see a lot of towels sun bathing on their own, and there seemed to be a lot of people looking for an empty seat. The boat seemed to have a younger mix on it than our sailing in April last year on the grand. There were much fewer "geezers" on board, and a lot more young adults. The ratio of humans versus idiots appeared to be about the same across all age groups. The thing I did notice is that there appeared to be a lot more smokers on this cruise. I had to wash my balcony furniture every morning because of all the ash on it, and I noticed a lot more smoking on the top deck. This last may have been that everyone was taking advantage of the sun when it was there, so all the smokers went outside when the rain stopped. Even so, I really notice smoke because of my lungs, and I was bothered very little by the smoke in the public spaces. Ports of Call: I took the Americas cup regatta excursion in St. Maartin. I think it was worth the $90, but we were actually on the boats for about 1hr 15 minutes, and "racing" for about 45. The rest of the time was shuttling to/from the boats, and then the forced stop at their store before returning to the boats. I'm not sure I would repeat this tour. I found very little in St. Martin of interest, the stores were expensive (for my type of things), and I did not find the store keepers easy to deal with, other than at Diamonds International. I have shopped Diamonds Int. on several Islands in the Caribbean and in Alaska, and their customer service is always outstanding. My wife and Mother-in-Law really liked the DI store at St. Martin, and got some great jewelry. Other than that however, the day was kind of a waste. We were back on the boat pretty early. Next time, we will treat the day as a Sea Day, and perhaps book hard-to-get appointments on the boat. No one in my group had excursions in St. Thomas. We took the $3 taxi to the shopping district, and had a pretty good time. We followed the store guidelines off the Princess recommend shopping list, and found good deals on Linens and Liquor. I found some great deals on watches, but I didn't want to spend $250 or more for a watch (I'm very hard on watches, I am a clutz), so I ended up purchasing an $85 watch on the boat that would have cost me about $150 in the US. I wanted to look for an MP3 player, but the electronics firms were packed full with 6 ships in port, and I was going to need a lot of help, so I gave up. I was tired from the Rocking and Rolling ship motion at night, and didn't have the energy to fight/stand and wait for a salesman. However, from the traffic that the stores were doing, a lot of people found good deals. When I returned to the boat, I saw a group of men delivering a 55 inch plasma TV to the Disney Magic...Where were the people going to put it in their stateroom, and how where they going to get it off the boat? In summary, I would recommend that if you are a beach person, do the beaches in St. Martin, and your shopping in St. Thomas. My wife found similar prices and items in St. Thomas to what she had purchased in St. Martin. I found that the AH Rise store in St. Thomas was about $1/bottle cheaper than the Princess store, and its selection was much better. This price got better because if you purchase the liquor in St. Thomas, you can purchase 4 liters from outside the island, and one Liter of local manufacturer. If you purchase on the boat, you can only purchase one Liter duty free. The duty on a 1L bottle is about $2, so if you purchase a lot, the difference could end up being $3/ bottle. However, I saved on average $8-15 / bottle to start with over the state mandated prices in NC, and if you only want a few bottles, with limited time, it certainly is easier to order from Princess. Dining: The dining is where Princess lost its points in my review. In general, I found the food served in any dining room to be terrific (breakfast, lunch, tea time and dinner). I found the food served in Horizon court to most likely be cold, and very heavily salted. On several mornings, I found the food I selected to be so salty I couldn't eat it, and had to try something else. I normally found something I liked, and for small snacks, I would try 5/6 things, and eventually got something I liked, but it was a much lower percentage of the time than when I was eating in the dining rooms. I ate a couple of breakfasts in the dining rooms, almost all the lunches, and all of the dinners. I was very adventurous in my choices, and most of the time had to stop myself eating a certain item because I knew that I had several more courses coming up. The couple of times I didn't clutz something it was because of the combination I had chosen, not because of preparation. I guess I should caveat that with the words "almost everytime". (more later). My last review of the Grand complained about long waits to get in personal choice seating. I did not see it this time. Last time it was not uncommon to see loads of people wandering around the shops with pagers waiting for tables. This time I saw very few people with pagers. We had late traditional seating, and ended up with table #252 (table for 8). Our table mates were outstanding, and because of them, we were able to handle the service issues we experienced without noticing. The first issue was with the table. This table is the only table in the dining room with a concave space in the ceiling above it. The effect of this decoration was that our table was so noisy that we had to shout to be heard by our table mates. The concave shape captured all the noise in the dining room and focused it down at our table. You could walk up to the table, and be fine, and as you stepped up to get your seat, the noise became amplified. I did an experiment, and leaned back in my seat so that my head was outside the circle, and the noise level dropped incredibly. The second issue was with our wait staff at Dinner. Very nice people, tried very hard, but their organization was off. Our table would often be the first ones completely seated in the dining room, but the three tables that our waiter served were always among the last tables to finish. It was not unusual for everyone to finish a course and then wait 10-15 minutes for the next course to show up. However, we were enjoying ourselves so much, that we didnMartMartinnd, other than the fact that we didn't finish dinner until 10:30 most every night. It turns out our waiter had just gotten promoted, and was having command issues. It didn't really bother anyone until the last night. The last night was the "Baked Alaska Parade". Thus, this gets presented when the first tables are finishing up. The wait staff was so rushed trying to get us ready for dessert "on time", that they spent very little time at the table. I made a bad choice for my soup course, and my seafood pasta main dish was cold. Each time I tried to ask my waiter for something different, he was busy doing something else, and by the time I got his attention, the rest of my table was finished with their dinners, and the Baked Alaska was being served. In fairness to our waiter, I need to explain that every night I ordered one item from each category, and then only ate 1/3 to ½ of it because I wanted to be able to try lots of food without exploding. For the first 4 days, every time the waiter took my plate, he asked me if I liked the food, and if I wanted something different. Each time my answer was "No, food was great, there's just too much of it". Therefore, when we got to the final night, and he was very rushed, he didn't ask, and I wasn't able to get his attention over all the other noise/commotion in the dining room. We all talked about the issues, and no one wanted to complain because he was trying so hard and was so pleasant that we did not want to take the chance of getting him in trouble. Please note that these issues were limited to one waiter and one specific table. Every other waiter we had at lunch was perfect. Dining and Shows: Being that I was cruising with my inlaws and we are self-entertaining, we were not really concerned about going to see the shows, the following did not bother us too much, for others, it might be a concern. When we cruised NCL, the shows were set opposite dinner, so that if you had early seating, you went to a show that started at 8:30, late seating, your show started at 6:30. On the golden, the shows start at 8 and 10:30. If you are like me, up at 6:30 or 7 AM (even on vacation), going to see a show at 10:30 is just too late. I also noticed that the late shows were very full. I talked to several people that said that if you were not in place 20-30 minutes ahead of time, there were no seats available. This fact in combination of our "Waiter issue" would have ensured that we didn't see many shows. In all fairness, being that I wasn't dying to see any of the offered shows, I didn't deduct points for this, I thought that if someone did want to see the shows however, they might want to think about PC, early seating, or just make sure that they can stay up to see a show that ends around midnight. I did get to experience some entertainment while on the boat. The nautical themed bar on Deck 7 next to the photo gallery was really cool. They had a vast selection of martini's for $4.95, and some really good Jazz combo's. We started going for a pre-dinner drink any night that it was raining and we could not be on the balcony. At $5 for a martini, this was the best drink value on the boat. Rooms: We stayed on the same deck and same category as last year, but we thought that these rooms were better organized. The difference was that the shower was rotated from its location in the Grand. The result is that there was about an additional 3 feet of hanging closet space. Last year we had to put luggage under the bed because the closet was full. This year we had enough room to put the clothes in the hanging closet, along with the luggage. (We also brought fewer clothes, but that's another story) All in all, we all really enjoyed the trip. Last year on the Grand we had bad luck in table mates but outstanding weather so we ate on our balcony every night and had a ball. This year it was the opposite, and we had a ball. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
Our very first cruise, and my husband and I were excited. Finally, the day came to fly down to Ft. Lauderdale and hop on the boat! Even though we didn't have a clue what to do when I first booked this trip, by the time we set sail ... Read More
Our very first cruise, and my husband and I were excited. Finally, the day came to fly down to Ft. Lauderdale and hop on the boat! Even though we didn't have a clue what to do when I first booked this trip, by the time we set sail Princess had done an excellent job informing us just what to expect. Registering and boarding the ship was very well organized, and not difficult to figure out. We were on the ship within 15 minutes, and in our stateroom in another 15 minutes. So far, so good. WOW! What a view! Our cabin had a deck, so we immediately had to go see that - we even had a view into the fly bridge! With a map in hand, we ventured out to find our dining room. We had opted for fixed dining - which meant that we had a specific seating as well as dining companions and waiter. Richard isn't the most outgoing type, so we felt this would be a more enjoyable way to dine. We did have a little difficulty finding the dining room, since the center of the ship is closed to non-personnel, ended up arriving about 40 minutes late for dinner. The food was superb. Our dining companions were perfect for us. Our waiter, Arnulfo and his assistant Maria made us feel like we were the only table on the ship. The stateroom was spacious, lots of storage space for clothes, and very tasteful - I've seen some atrocious decorating in hotels (theme decor). Our steward, Eduardo, introduced himself to us as we were returning from dinner. From then on, our trip was like visiting family. The days spent at sea before reaching St. Martin were filled with laughter, sun, good food, and fantastic entertainment. Once on St. Martin, we wandered through streets and shops - can you believe McDonalds sells Heineken. We stayed on the Dutch side at a beach resort for the day (sun and surf - just the antidote for New England winters). St. Thomas was our next stop - we had to go through US Immigration once the ship docked in St. Thomas - whether you left the ship or not, and that was handled well, although I felt some of the seniors and handicapped could have been given some alternatives instead of standing in the line. Once off the boat, we took a bus/taxi tour of the island - going to the highest point, and then to Blackbeard's Castle where the tour ended. A quick ride and I was right where I wanted to be - shopping! Richard caught a taxi and went to the golf course - got right out on the course for a quick 9 holes and beat me back to the ship! Beautiful day. When the ship docked off Princess Cays (their private island), I took one look at the seas the tenders were going through and decided to stay on the boat. The channel looked a little too choppy for my taste. Found out that it wasn't that bad, but the day was overcast and very windy - a lot of folks came back quickly because they were cold. Last evening on board - the Baked Alaska parade was not to be missed - found out this is only in fixed seating - glad we got to see it. Disembarkation went rather smoothly, except for the usual people who want to stand in front of exits for 2 hours before being called to leave the ship. Princess has a very good system to keep the traffic flow smooth through this process, based on your flights out - first to fly, first off the ship, and so forth. Can't wait to go again! Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
We arranged our airfare on our own online through Spirit Airlines, we booked to leave on Friday March 19th. Our flight was supposed to leave at 7:20 AM, Chicago O'Hare to Fort Lauderdale, unfortunately, due to bad weather on the East ... Read More
We arranged our airfare on our own online through Spirit Airlines, we booked to leave on Friday March 19th. Our flight was supposed to leave at 7:20 AM, Chicago O'Hare to Fort Lauderdale, unfortunately, due to bad weather on the East Coast the day before, our flight was delayed and we didn't depart until 10:30 AM, we had arrived at the airport at 5:30 AM, we were disappointed that Spirit did not contact us to let us know about the delay, but all in all, it wasn't too bad waiting, after all, I was going on a cruise! They did provide all the waiting passengers, free snacks and drinks. The flight was smooth and uneventful, landed in Fort Lauderdale at 2:30 PM. We had booked our hotel through Priceline and stayed at the Holiday Inn Fort Lauderdale Beach. This hotel is directly across the street from the ocean, we traveled during the peak season of Spring Break so traffic from the Airport to the hotel was horrendous, traffic was stop and go all the way. After checking in, we went to check out our room, we had requested a nonsmoking room with 2 double beds, this is what we received, this room did have a nice view of the ocean, too bad we could not open the windows to let the fresh sea air into the room. This hotel was OK, room was clean, it's very basic and I'm glad we used Priceline and only paid $75.00, other guests at the hotel were paying $259.00 per night!! We ate breakfast at the restaurant, food was OK, but very expensive. We had arranged to be picked up at the hotel at 11:30 AM by a limo company, we used a limo instead of a taxi due to the 4 people and 8 pieces of luggage plus our carry ons, we would have had to take 2 taxis instead of 1. Driver was early, he arrived at 11:00, I was in the lobby waiting in line to check out when he arrived. DH and my son brought the luggage down and helped the driver get it all into the limo, thankfully, the driver had a bungee cord so all the luggage was able to fit into the trunk and not in the car with us. We were finally on our way to begin our cruise! Arrived at Port Everglades at 11:45 AM, no traffic into the port at this time, there was a very long line waiting to enter the Princess Terminal, the doors were opened at Noon and embarkation took all of 10 minutes, we had express check in and were in our stateroom (BA balcony room Caribe deck #326) by 12:20 PM. My two teens had an inside cabin C328 right across the hall. Our room was adequate, the balcony was wonderful, because, we were on Caribe deck our balcony was deeper than other BA cabins. I would highly recommend a balcony cabin on this deck. Our Room Steward was Henry Yohanon from the Philippines, he took very good care of our cabins on this trip. We had planned a get together with fellow cruisers from the Cruise Critic Board, we met at the Tradewinds Bar on Sun deck #15, many of the posters showed up and we all had a fun time. It was wonderful to meet everybody and put faces with names. We also had a Sea Day Party from the Cruise Critic Board arranged for the first sea day at 3 PM. I had arranged in advance through my TA (thanks Lori & Jenn!!) to use Skywalkers Nightclub, asked for a bartender for a cash bar and I also ordered some munchies. Princess certainly shined here!! I was very impressed!! They made signs for our party, had a manager meet and greet all the guests, they had a bartender and waiters for us, the food was beautifully prepared and presented (and delicious!). Music was playing in the background as well. I did not expect all this, I just wanted a private place to meet with fellow Cruise Critics, Princess really helped make this party very special. Thanks Princess!! We ate breakfast through Room Service or Horizon Court, we did have one breakfast in the dining room. Lunches were mostly at Horizon, once in the dining room and a few times for pizza or burgers by the pool, OK pizza, it needed more cheese, burgers and knockwurst were surprisingly very good, fries and onion rings were excellent. Horizon buffet was OK, good selection, especially the fresh fruits and salads, some of the hot food was only warm, the food overall was very tasty. In the buffet, they have cleanser to wash your hands before you are handed your plate and eating utensils, I was glad to see this as I was a bit concerned about getting the Norovirus, happily, nobody came down with this virus during this voyage. The buffet was crowded during lunch, the staff onboard very, very polite and cleaned off the tables immediately. We had chosen Personal Choice dining and we were very pleased with this, no waiting except on the last formal night (lobster night), had to wait 45 minutes for a table, we didn't mind, we sat at the Lobby Bar and had a cocktail before our dinner. We usually ate at 6:00 or 6:30PM, we ate dinner a bit later on the second formal night (7:00PM), I think that's why we had to wait. I was very happy to learn that Princess has added more souffles to their dessert menu! They had hazelnut souffle, the harlequin souffle and one that had Grand Mariner, cannot remember the name, all were delicious. I also tried for the first time, the chilled peach soup, it was excellent. It's like having dessert in the middle of your meal. Dining room dinners were excellent! Never had a bad dinner, DH said the fish dishes were cooked perfectly, service was very good as well. We did eat dinner at the Desert Rose, service and the food were excellent, the $8.00 cover charge included a Margarita. Unfortunately, Princess, is replacing this fine restaurant with a Sterling Steakhouse, when she is in dry dock. The ship itself is in great condition, everything was sparkling clean, there was always somebody cleaning, the crew was always very friendly and polite, I was always greeted with a smile. We had a total of 3 sea days, pools were busy but didn't see many chair hogs. Princess now has little signs that are stuck on the back of the lounge chairs stating that if you are not occupying the chair for 30 minutes, your belongings can be taken off the chair and put into the lost and found. On Thursday, the last sea day, all the pools were closed, this was due to very rough seas, the water was sloshing right out of the pools. Didn't go to any of the production shows, I had already seen "Lights, Camera Action" previously, when I was on the Grand. We did see the Comedians "Sarge" and Stu Moss, both were very funny. We tried to see Bert Stratton, but it was always very crowded, his show was very popular. Did go to see the movies Master and Commander and The Last Samurai in the Princess Theater. Didn't go to the casino, but I heard the slots were very tight. I am a non-smoker and I was never bothered by cigarette smoke anywhere on the ship. We had 2 teens traveling with us, our daughter age 17 and son, age 16. They were both registered in the Teen Center, my son didn't use the Teen Center, my daughter did, she was a bit bored with it, but soon met other teens her age and she then had a blast. We didn't see her until dinner and immediately after, she left to be with her new found friends. We did one excursion through Princess on St. Maarten, we booked the Rhino Rider Tour, we did have a blast. One word of caution, this excursion should not be taken by somebody who has a bad back. The boats are flat bottomed, so after you ride over the wave, you do come crashing down and this does jar the back. They took us to Happy Bay a tiny beach for snorkeling, but due to the wind and high waves, we were unable to snorkel. Did a little shopping bought some chocolates from the Belgian Chocolate shop, these are THE best chocolates I have ever eaten!! We booked a tour with Godfrey on St. Thomas, he picked us up at the ship, then dropped us off downtown for shopping, picked us up again for an island tour, then you had your choice of stopping at Coki, Sapphire or Megan's Point beaches for 2 hours of sunning, swimming or snorkeling. It was a wonderful tour and it only costs $20 per person. I would highly recommend his tour. We had a wonderful cruise. The only downside was the rough seas. I was seasick Sunday morning and on Thursday morning, thankfully, I was feeling poorly for only a few hours, I had read someplace that if you are feeling sick, to eat slices of green apple, which I did and which actually made me feel better. I also took Bonine, but that made me feel very tired. Sorry, this is so long, if anybody has any questions, please feel free to e-mail me. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
This was my first cruise and also my honeymoon. It was 99% PERFECT. Our room was awesome, we loved our balcony! We slept with our door open to hear the ocean at night, ate breakfast out there and even played scrabble. The food was simply ... Read More
This was my first cruise and also my honeymoon. It was 99% PERFECT. Our room was awesome, we loved our balcony! We slept with our door open to hear the ocean at night, ate breakfast out there and even played scrabble. The food was simply amazing. We ordered room service several times and of course also enjoyed the wonderful dining room. The buffett was always full of surprises, including a display of baked chickens dressed up like a musical band- I wish I had taken a picture of them! My only complaint is that the coffee is pretty awful. We are from NY, on the Canadian border. Both Ny and Canadian coffee are AWESOME. Princess needs to work on that one. The staff is wonderful, very friendly, very helpful, and especially personable. I am sad that I will never see these people again (barring fate of course) We loved the casino, loved the dealers, loved the pit boss! My husband won $500 on a single had of carribean stud poker! We can't wait to cruise again, probably for a special anniversary or something. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
Well I am Benjamin. I'm 24 from Montreal, Canada. Its was my first cruise with Princess but did three others with Carnival, the differences are pretty big. The Coral Princess his a awesome ship really nice and new with a lot of pool ... Read More
Well I am Benjamin. I'm 24 from Montreal, Canada. Its was my first cruise with Princess but did three others with Carnival, the differences are pretty big. The Coral Princess his a awesome ship really nice and new with a lot of pool and hot tubs to relax and they are open 24 hours. That's amazing and you can dive in those pools cause they are more than 7 feet depth for 2 of them. For the kids center really nice but there was no kids to play in cause this cruise, this we have to say more mature old people but nice and really enjoying for lot of them but if you want to go party at night that's not the boat to go on 10 days cruise cause longer so its people who have time to travel compared to 7 days cruise. People were up until 1:30am. There wasn't any activity after, just the casino, if you like to play, actually the casino was really nice the nicest a sea so far and I didn't lose this time. For morning persons excellent there his all those morning activities free and paying ones and of course always every day at see those seminars about different stuff you can learn about, its really cool and funny most of time. For those who love good food you're on the right boat. Yes was amazing and you can choose the time you want to go diner between certain hours, and different country specialities every day. The tours and all the stops especially when you pass in Panama Canal it's really impressive those big gates. Limon, Costa Rica this a amazing stop, people are really nice like Cozumel friendly. If you want to shop Limon and Cozumel really nice and Panama Canal Colon is really nice to shop when open.  Now I have to talk about the crew and staff. I have to say they are amazing everyone seem to love what there doing and they really have a good relationship between each other that seems to reflect on their work the best crew I saw. Ok ladies especially if you have to go fixed your hair or a cut the best hair stylist in the world his on that ship his name Nathan Woodley -- that guy knows what is doing and done it for a long time is gonna make you laugh so bad, if you can have a appointment cause hes really busy all the time. And don't forget all the ladies working in the spa amazing too, you will really feel comfortable. For the show and entertainment they are really in to it and make all people dance and have a good time. I remember Sarah really entertaining. The passenger desk service was amazing really fast and serviable. So i really have to say that was an amazing time i had with the crew and passenger even with the big age differences but I totally recommend that cruise to anyone. Have a good cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
About Us We are in our 30s. This is our third cruise with Princess. We have done the Eastern (2003) and Western Caribbean (2002). We book with the same agency each time--prices/booking available online, but I book over the phone. ... Read More
About Us We are in our 30s. This is our third cruise with Princess. We have done the Eastern (2003) and Western Caribbean (2002). We book with the same agency each time--prices/booking available online, but I book over the phone. Embarkation We took a flight to get into FLL at 10:30 in the morning. Got our bags and hopped in a cab for Port Everglades. We did the Princess transfer once and realized that it took way too long. We were in line and waiting to get in the building shortly after 11:00. We waited for about 20 minutes when the doors opened. The express check in line was long so we got into the Caribe deck line-we were second. We signed the paperwork and headed to security expecting to wait in the holding area for a while. To our delight, they were already boarding. We were standing on our balcony by 11:30. This was the fastest process yet. The Ship We had loved the Grand Princess and were a bit concerned that this ship might not "WOW" us or that it might feel too small. What we found was just the opposite. We loved the decor, the furniture and the art around the ship. The pools were great too. We didn't miss having a true night club too much. There was enough to keep us busy at night. The expanded Wheelhouse Bar was a great change. Much more comfortable and welcoming. The corridor outside Sabatini's and the Bayou Cafe made you feel like you were walking on a side street in a city. The glass work around the ship was interesting too. Our Cabin We booked an AB--Balcony cabin on Caribe. We usually have a mini, so we were concerned about feeling cramped. The bed/desk/chair/tv area was fine. The closet and cabinet space was similar to the mini. I did miss the storage area in the living space and found that we ran out of space each time I went shopping in a port. I was prepared for the small bathroom. But after a few days of peeling the shower curtain off my backside I was dreaming of the minisuite bathroom. I did bring an over the door shoe holder. Without it I would have gone nuts in the bathroom. The only outlet in the room was on the wall next to the balcony door. I brought a small power strip, but no extension cord. Bring an extension cord. The balcony was huge. I asked our room steward, Dino, to bring me a pool lounge chair. It fit nicely with the table and two chairs. Having that chair was a great way to relax on the balcony Food We did anytime dining. We tried tables for 2, 6 and 10. We had a mix of good and bad service. Luckily, we found a waiter and a table that we loved so we started to call in the morning to reserve the table. Try to get table 94 (it's by a window) with Matt and Noel. His section also had a table for 4 and one for 12. There were times when he was slammed but he handled everything with a smile. Matt is very attentive and quite funny. He made our dining experience even better. We found the food in the dining room to be similar to what we had on the Grand, but the portions seemed to be smaller. Matt even told us which meals were small so we would order something extra to share. We loved all of the cold soups. The beef meals that I had were better than what I've had before on cruises. We ate breakfast and lunch in the Horizon Court each day. The food was good, but there was less of a variety than what we saw on past cruises. We did order the champagne breakfast for the Panama Canal. It was well worth the $25. Most of the items could have been picked up in the HC, but the presentation of the food and drinking champagne just after sunrise going through the canal was an experience that I won't forget. Entertainment This was the first time that we enjoyed the production shows. There is great use of the rotating stages in the Universe Lounge and the tv's and video screens were a nice addition. It kept things interesting. The dancing was a notch above what we've seen before. Better costumes and great choreography. We liked the two male singers (Scott and Patrick)and one the of the female singers (Tracy). we found Jenn to be a boring singer with one style and no range. The comic, Kevin Hughes, was fantastic. We went to all three of his shows (and we bought his CD!). We had a nice surprise in that Willie Tyler and Lester were part of the entertainment. We had been fans as long as we can remember, so it was a bonus to see him live. He was also very approachable around the ship. The other entertainers (juggler, comic and magician) were ok. But nothing that you hadn't seen or heard before. Avoid Jack Wilkes--we stayed for the entire show, but should have followed our fellow passengers out the door. David Moore, the piano player in Crooners, is fantastic. Make sure to grab a martini and sit and listen to him at least once. We didn't listen to the bands that much. Most of it didn't fit us, or wasn't that great...My husband enjoyed all of the pool games and silliness involved. We ended up with some prizes and champagne too. The game shows and trivia were fun too. A good way to pass some time between losing money in the casino. Ports/Shore Excursions We did a private tour with Peat Taylor in Jamaica. A group of Cruise Critics booked a tour together. It was a great half day. Peat was very knowledgeable and funny. He's got a decent singing voice too. We went to Dunn's River Falls, through Fern Gully and around Jamaica. We enjoyed the falls, but it was a bit much for me so I stopped about 3/4 of the way up. Fern Gully was beautiful. If you are going to Jamaica, save your money and book a tour with Peat ($30pp) and you get a great tour....Panama Canal Ocean to Ocean tour: We enjoyed the tour. It was very long and the weather danced between hot and rain, but we loved it anyway. I think you have to enjoy the history and engineering behind the canal to really like this tour. We missed our initial lock time, so we were delayed about 1.5 hours in getting back to the ship. We didn't have time to shop in the market at the port, but I was worn out by then and didn't care that much. I did see one man get sick at the front of the boat. His family just kind of ignored what happened and I promptly moved to the back of the ship to avoid any future incidents...Costa Rica: Sloth Sanctuary and Canoe Tour. This was a fantastic excursion. Our tour guide, Gloriana was the best guide we have ever had. She even made the bus ride fun. She knew so much about Costa Rica and her live for her country was great. The canoe ride was pleasant. There were four people in each canoe with a guide. We got to see many birds and there were monkeys swinging in the trees. Then we were introduced to the Sloths. They are incredible creatures. I fell in love with them. I even adopted one, along with another cruise critic member. I am proud to be one of Sid Wiggy's moms. We had a chance to enjoys a fruit buffet and a drink before heading out on a nature walk, where we learned even more about the wildlife and plants. I'd recommend this tour to anyone that loved animals and wants to learn a lot about Costa Rica...We did the Island Highlights in Grand Cayman. We enjoyed seeing Hell and doing the postcard thing. We were a little troubled by the Turtle Farm. It is a mix of conservation and meat supply. We could have skipped that and been happy. We ate lunch at Breezes. Excellent conch fritters...In Cozumel we did the Dolphin Swim and Snorkel. The swim part was great. You got a kiss from the dolphin, danced with it and then you got pulled by the Dolphin. I squealed the entire time. The snorkel part was ok. We were in a large circle and the dolphin just swam under us around the circle. Since the water was very cloudy there were times when I didn't know the dolphin was coming until it was right next to me. We were going to buy the video, but they wanted $35 for it. It wasn't worth that to us. But then a cool thing happened: my husband was picked to help train a baby dolphin. He got spend about 30 minutes in the water working with the dolphin and a trainer. It was a once in a life time experience. After that we spent some time in Chakanaab walking around. We ate lunch in the park--which was fantastic. Then is was back to the ship and on to shopping. Scholarship at Sea The only thing that we did was pottery. We took the throwing class with Barbara Kates and had a lot of fun. Barbara is a great teacher with a lot of patience! We both made bowls that we were able to glaze and bring home. We also painted plates to bring home too. We loved this program and look forward to adding to our pottery on future cruises. Pictures The switch to digital photography made things interesting. We had a lot more opportunities to get our pictures taken, and there multiple versions of each picture available. But the prices have gone up again so we ended up buying fewer photos. Funny thing is that if the process were cheaper, we would have bought more photos and would have given the ship more money in the long run. Passengers We expected an older crowd and we got one. There were many walkers and wheelchairs, but it wasn't a problem. For the most part, we found the older crowd to be pleasant and chatty. I even had a few grandmothers that claimed me as one of their own. I did see more 40s and 50s doing the complaining and I had expected it from the 70-80 crowd. Staff We had a great time getting to know the cruise staff. Kelly Neal, Deputy Cruise Director, was a riot. He always entertained us and made up for Trevor Bradford and his canned jokes. The other staff members, Josh, Tyrone, Kent, Erin, Sam and Robyn were so much fun. I look forward to seeing them on future cruises. All in all it was a great cruise, made even better by the people we met from this board. I feel like we made some lifelong friends that we hope to see again someday. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
Island Princess Panama Canal March 5-15 Ft. Lauderdale: As we wanted to make own flight arrangements through a travel agent, we flew down on March 4. We always go the day before in case of weather and flight delays. Arrived in Ft. ... Read More
Island Princess Panama Canal March 5-15 Ft. Lauderdale: As we wanted to make own flight arrangements through a travel agent, we flew down on March 4. We always go the day before in case of weather and flight delays. Arrived in Ft. Lauderdale by noon, called the Embassy Suite shuttle and checked into the hotel. Our room was not ready, so walked around enjoying the shopping areas and ate lunch at the South Port Raw Bar on the patio overlooking a marina. It was very close to the Embassy Suites. On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a liquor store and purchased a couple bottles of wine and a bottle of champagne to take on board. We got into our room around 3 PM. Requested a high room facing the pier, as many of you suggested. You could at least see the top half of the ships that were in Port Everglades. Then walked to the River Marriott to pick up the Water Bus....again....thanks for the recommendations all you CC. It is a bit of a walk, but less than a mile. We to the Water Bus ($5 for all day) to Las Olas Boulevard where all there are a bunch of restraints, bars, and shopping. We loved the ride, enjoying the million dollar homes. We ate dinner at a delicious Mexican dinner at the Ole Ole and then took the water bus back. March 5: Could see the Island Princess from our room. The Embassy Suites provides a full breakfast. At about 11:15 we asked the bell man to call us a cab, as we had heard the ES no longer provides transportation to the pier. However they were just loading 2 vans and put us on one of those. When we got to the pier it looked like a huge line. However once they opened the doors, all went well and we were checked in and in our room by 12:30. Sat by the pool and explored the ship until muster at 4:15. Luggage arrive about 6 PM. We do late traditional dining. We don't want to bother with reservations, deciding where and when to eat and enjoy having one waiter for the entire cruise. We had a table for 8. One couple never showed up after the first night so must have changed dining arrangements. Enjoyed exchanging stories of our day with the other two couples each evening. Went to the 10:15 show. It was an introduction of cruise staff, dancers and comedian, Kevin Hughes. He was great so went to both of his other shows. March 6: At sea. Champagne Art Auction: fun to go to at least one even if you aren't interested in buying. They tell about the artists and the Princess Art program. You can stay as long or short of time as you desire. First Formal night. We did formal pictures around 6 PM and found no lines. Captains Welcome at 7:30 PM. Free cocktails and hors' douvres. If you like chocolate try the Hazelnut Chocolate SoufflE for dessert! Wen to the show Let's Rock! Very good for ship entertainment. Not sure how they dance with the ship rocking so! March 7: Ocho Rios. Ordered breakfast in room. Used the menu left on bed every night. Yes, you can add items not on there, but be very specific. Delivered promptly during the half hour time slot we requested. Personally can take or leave Ocho Rios. Walked to Margaritaville and layed on the beach. Can use the beach there if you buy a drink. You can rent chairs or umbrellas once you are on the beach. Small beach, but nobody pushing you to buy things. Margarittaville was really hopping by the time we went back to the ship mid-afternoon. Shopped briefly at Island Village. Many afternoons we would go to Horizon Court for cheeses, crackers, cold meat, etc. to have on our balcony with a drink while the ship left port. Drink at Wheelhouse Bar. Not much action here, but a few people dancing to a combo. After dinner we went to the 50's Rock N' Roll Party. Lots of fun!!! The singers and dancers performed in a casual atmosphere. There was dancing and a few contests. March 8: At Sea I sat in the sun. There weren't many chair hogs. You could always find a place at the front of the ship a deck above the pool. There were a lot of decks with chair available if you didn't have a need to be by the pool. Most sea days I got food from Horizon Court and ate by the pool. My husband enjoyed the pizza and hamburgers at the pool grill. He spend some time in the library, which is very quiet. You can listen to music, read, and watch the water. Went to the Wine Tasting for $7.50 each. It was okay, but don't feel a need to go to another. Before dinner had cocktails at Crooner's Martini Bar. It was my favorite because there were windows so you could see the ocean or you could people watch as it is right on the atrium. If you like chocolate martinis you must have the Milky Way martini!! Dinner was French night, so Escargot was a must!! March 9: Panama Canal Up at 5:45 as we didn't want to miss any of the Panama Canal transit. You cannot do the pre-order breakfast (where you hang it on your door the night before) until 7 AM, so we called room service. You can order most things they have available on a daily basis. Delivery was prompt. We watch the transit through the Gatun Locks from our balcony. Left our balcony door open and the Princess Station on our TV turned up loud enough to hear the commentary as we entered the locks. At 9:30 AM they begin to tender those with excursions to the Gatun Yacht Club. If you don't have an excursion scheduled you stay on the ship and anchor in Gatun Lake until the ship is given a time to go back out the same three locks you entered through. We had chosen the Ocean to Ocean. It was an hour and a half bus ride to Gamboa, where we boarded a boat that probably held 200. We sat on the top deck in the front as wanted a clear view. It was a very hot day and it took us a long time to get through the 3 locks into the Pacific. They put two ships or boats in the locks if possible to save water. We had a huge cargo vessel going with us and it took quite a while for it to catch up with us and get into the locks behind us. We are not bothered by the sun or the heat so enjoyed our seats. There were benches in the shade and inside where it was air-conditioned for those that don't do well in the heat. Yes, it was a long day, but we loved every minute of it. Apparently some did not enjoy the excursion as much as we did. We docked on the Pacific side at Flamenco Island and were bused back to the port of Cristobal where we met the Island Princess. Due to the time it took to got through the locks, we were the last group on board before the ship pulled out. Being a ship sponsored tour, being late was not an issue. We loved going through the locks in a smaller boat so you could see more of the locks, travel through the Culebra Cut, and hear more about the Panama Canal. If you are doing this excursion, though consider the time and temperature factors. March 10: Limon We did the Costa Rican Adventure which was an aerial tram through the rain forest, lunch and a boat through the Tortuguero Canal. It left at 6:45 AM and returned to the ship at 6 PM. Again, we enjoyed it and would recommend it. If that is too long for you just do the canal part which can be booked by itself. Enjoyed the tram through the rain forest, but saw no animals and is something you probably only need to do once. Lunch was at an open sided roofed building. It was Costa Rican food...rice and beans, chicken, steak, pantian, veggies, salad and a coconut dessert. It was excellent. The boat trip is definitely a "to do". Saw a lot of monkeys, 3-toed sloths, snake birds, hurons, bats, and crocodiles. March 11: At sea Entered the slot tournament; a first. You just pay $20 and get so many credits or pulls. The 6 that have the most credits after the pulls have a play-off and the high credits from that wins $500. Went to the ventriloquist, who was entertaining. Dinner was called International Night. It was Island Night and there was a big party around the Lido pool, but it was extremely windy all day and evening, so not a lot of fun on deck! March 12: Grand Cayman Leave on early tender (7:30 AM)to do the Catamaran and Snorkel Stingray excursion. Get to Grand Cayman and Princess excursion person announces "due to wind and current that excursion was cancelled at 7:20 AM). There is a snorkel trip to two places at 8:30 AM they will put us on or credit us with the original excursion. We decide to do the 8:30 AM excursion. Then about half an hour later we are the only ones interested so can't do that either. The excursion guy, Kevin says we can go on the same one with a group from Royal Caribbean at 10 AM. Meet at the same spot. Kevin leaves and at 9:30 we see RCI people at a different tender spot. I ask the excursion guru who replaces Kevin and he says "all Princess excursions meet here" and he doesn't know anything about our substituted excursion. He is very short with us and no help! (Not good!) On our own we go to where the RCI people are boarding a snorkeling boat and join them. The man, Kevin originally told us to go with us welcomes us, takes our Princess excursion ticket and we had a great snorkeling excursion with RCI people to the Cheeseburger reef and a shipwreck not far from the tender pier. Thank heavens my husband was aggressive enough to go to the RCI excursion area and find the guy in charge of that particular trip. Ended up to be a GREAT snorkeling adventure, but I feel Princess let us down! Found out later that people who booked independent trips went and it was windy, but just fine! Should have taken the advice of all you CC's who said "book the stingrays on your own". Next time, eh? Shopped a little, then ate lunch at Breezes...overlooking the water and all the ships anchored.....on their outside balcony! Had a wonderful Conch salad! Back to the ship for pool time. Second formal night, reception for returning passengers, pictures and another great meal!! Our waiter brought us a platter of fabulous cookies besides desserts! March 13: Cozumel Room Service for breakfast on our balcony again! Princess Catamaran Excursion to Palancaar and Columbia Reef. Great catamaran ride to excellent snorkeling spots. Super crew. They snorkeled with us and searched out the best fish and turtle sightings for us. They were very safety conscious and made sure everyone had a good excursion. Back to the ship to clean up and back to Cozumel to shop and have a snack at Panchos (overlooking the water and pier). Back for my daily fix at the casino, but actually came out ahead! March 14: Thought I would not dread my last day on board after a 10 day cruise....WRONG! Not ready for a glorious vacation to come to an end. Another very windy day, so no breakfast on balcony. Pool day and time to pack! One last martini at Crooners and time to purchase last minute pictures. One more trip to casino and some time listening to Karaoke. March 15: Routine disembarkation. Thanks CC's for the advice to use a porter. No line. They take you promptly to a taxi. A word of warning.......the Ft. Lauderdale airport is a zoo.....even on Monday! You have to be off the boat so nothing else to do but go to the airport. If you have an afternoon flight with Northwest, you cannot check in until after 12 noon, even if you are first class. However the check-in machines let you check in, so it is a bit confusing when a Northwest agent yells at you, pounds a sign and says he is tearing up your luggage tags. Then you try to check in after noon and the machine you have to use to check in tells you that you have already registered 2 pieces of luggage per person so will be charged $80 for the only 2 you are really trying to check. Of course, heaven forbid if a real person can help you with this matter! It looked like only Northwest had this policy and other airlines were handling the large numbers quickly and with courtesy. The worst part is there is nowhere to store your luggage, so you have to keep it in tow. You are then stuck in the check in area where there are very few seats, no restaurants, no snackbars, no news stands, etc. Ft. Lauderdale airport and most of all Northwest need to deal with this problem. However, we refused to let such trivial matters ruin a fabulous vacation that we would repeat in a heartbeat!!! Once we got checked in, flights went well and we returned to SNOW! General comments: • Room B431: Our first mini-suite....loved the bigger bath and extra space. We were first on the middle bump-out, facing the front of the ship. That balcony is a little smaller than the normal Baja bump-outs. If you have seen pictures of the first balcony on bump-outs, you have awesome views, but if there is any wind you are not protected at all. This made it hard to have night balcony time or balcony time when on the move. Next time I would probably pass on that balcony situation as I like to spend late nights on the balcony, as well as snapshots of us on it before going out! Perfect location though....midship, close to elevators and stairs. • Too much pushing of shots and double drinks • DJ needs to start at 10:30 PM, not midnight • Need less $20 pictures. Either lower the price so you sell more and make more 5 X 7's for $10 • Heard lots complaints on this board about the food. I thought it just fine and ever bit as good as our first 2 Princess cruises. Can't compare to any other lines. Sorry this got so long! Yes we would do this cruise again and no we were not disappointed in Princess! Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
We are Platinum members with princess and have sailed a total of 25+ cruises. Being British, my wife and I flew from London HRW via British Airways on a Princess package arriving in Miami a day before the cruise departure. The flight was ... Read More
We are Platinum members with princess and have sailed a total of 25+ cruises. Being British, my wife and I flew from London HRW via British Airways on a Princess package arriving in Miami a day before the cruise departure. The flight was uneventful and unmemorable being completely full. We were met by a Princess rep and our luggage taken care of. After a lengthy wait for a coach, together with another 40 people we were transported to the Intercontinental hotel. We were very pleased with the accommodation here although we did consider the price of food to be expensive. There are very few facilities at this hotel and very little else to do here. For breakfast the following morning we visited the adjacent McDonalds. At noon on 15th March, around 150 British guests boarded the coaches for the 70 minute journey to Fort Lauderdale. We arrived around 1.30pm, and the booking in procedure was very simple, and after the obligatory 'Welcome aboard photo' we were settled into our stateroom on Aloha Deck 608. This was a balcony cabin just aft of midships. We found the cabin to be quite satisfactory with ample storage space. The bed was configured to a queen and was quite comfortable. It is indeed a fact that the shower cubicle is 'comfortable' - and if you do drop the soap you will have to squat to pick it up rather than bending over! The room steward was excellent is all respects. After the 4.15 Muster held in the public rooms we were on our way just after 6pm for the sailaway. We had booked 'anytime dining' but when we boarded we decided we would like to change it to 2nd sitting - however in the event the traditional dining room (Provence) was full for both sittings. The time for 1st sitting was 5.45pm and second sitting was 8pm. Following the advice gained from Cruise Critic we then spoke with the Maitre D and arranged a regular 8.15 time slot for a table for 2 in the Bordeaux dining Room. Also let it be said that we never had any trouble requesting a table for 2 for any meal in this restaurant. We found the food to be good (Prime Ribs excellent) and the service from the waiters in the main to be excellent. We didn't dine in the Bayou or Sabitinis. There were no reports of Norwalk virus. We thought the Photographers did a good job - however the price of the pictures (10x8=$19.95 and 8x6=$9.95) was expensive. Although the borders and details superimposed made some of them excellent souvenirs. In the Panama Canal the photographers go ashore and take photos of the guests on their Balconies. We had one flat calm sea day and the others were mostly quite windy and sunny. The swimming pools can be quite wild at times. There was never any problem with seat hogging, and you were always able to get a sunbed virtually anywhere. I suppose the age group overall averaged around 55/60 and there were only around 25 small children and a handful of teenagers. There never caused any disturbance in the pools or Jacuzzis. A lot has been said about the ports of call, and I will not go into great detail here, only to say that a couple of pointers. A seemingly little known fact is that passengers are able to stand at the front of the ship on Decks 10 & 11 by exiting out of the for'd doors. This is an excellent position for transiting the canal and there were very few others there. We did the Ocean to Ocean tour - it was a 9 hour tour - and there was a packed lunch. Although a good tour, a lot of time is wasted waiting around in the locks, and the coach journey too and from is very long (2hrs). While the ship was in Cristobel the QM2 was there. The ship couldn't enter Limon due apparently to a high swell, however we did dock at a container port (Port Moin) approx 2 miles North. Princess did provide a transfer to Limon but charged $6pp each way!! We did the Eco tour and found this to be extremely interesting seeing crocodiles, iguanas, sloths and howling monkeys. Debarkation was very smooth and organised. All in all Princess exceeded our expectations. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
Island Princess Panama Canal March 5-15 Ft. Lauderdale: As we wanted to make own flight arrangements through a travel agent, we flew down on March 4. We always go the day before in case of weather and flight delays. Arrived in Ft. ... Read More
Island Princess Panama Canal March 5-15 Ft. Lauderdale: As we wanted to make own flight arrangements through a travel agent, we flew down on March 4. We always go the day before in case of weather and flight delays. Arrived in Ft. Lauderdale by noon, called the Embassy Suite shuttle and checked into the hotel. Our room was not ready, so walked around enjoying the shopping areas and ate lunch at the South Port Raw Bar on the patio overlooking a marina. It was very close to the Embassy Suites. On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a liquor store and purchased a couple bottles of wine and a bottle of champagne to take on board. We got into our room around 3 PM. Requested a high room facing the pier, as many of you suggested. You could at least see the top half of the ships that were in Port Everglades. Then walked to the River Marriott to pick up the Water Bus....again....thanks for the recommendations all you CC. It is a bit of a walk, but less than a mile. We took the Water Bus ($5 for all day) to Las Olas Boulevard where there are a bunch of restaurants, bars, and shopping. We loved the ride, enjoying the million dollar homes. We ate dinner at a delicious Mexican dinner at the Ole Ole and then took the water bus back. March 5: Could see the Island Princess from our room. The Embassy Suites provides a full breakfast. At about 11:15 we asked the bell man to call us a cab, as we had heard the ES no longer provides transportation to the pier. However, they were just loading 2 vans and put us on one of those. When we got to the pier it looked like a huge line. However once they opened the doors, all went well and we were checked in and in our room by 12:30. Sat by the pool and explored the ship until muster at 4:15. Luggage arrived about 6 PM. We do late traditional dining. We don't want to bother with reservations, deciding where and when to eat and enjoy having one waiter for the entire cruise. We had a table for 8. One couple never showed up after the first night so must have changed dining arrangements. Enjoyed exchanging stories of our day with the other two couples each evening. Went to the 10:15 show. It was an introduction of cruise staff, dancers and comedian, Kevin Hughes. He was great so went to both of his other shows. March 6: At sea. Champagne Art Auction: fun to go to at least one even if you aren't interested in buying. They tell about the artists and the Princess Art program. You can stay as long or short of time as you desire. First Formal night. We did formal pictures around 6 PM and found no lines. Captain's Welcome at 7:30 PM. Free cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. If you like chocolate try the Hazelnut Chocolate SoufflE for dessert! Wen to the show Let's Rock! Very good for ship entertainment. Not sure how they dance with the ship rocking so! March 7: Ocho Rios . Ordered breakfast in room. Used the menu left on bed every night. Yes, you can add items not on there, but be very specific. Delivered promptly during the half hour time slot we requested. Personally can take or leave Ocho Rios. Walked to Margaritaville and laid on the beach. Can use the beach there if you buy a drink. You can rent chairs or umbrellas once you are on the beach. Small beach, but nobody pushing you to buy things. Margaritaville was really hopping by the time we went back to the ship mid-afternoon. Shopped briefly at Island Village. Many afternoons we would go to Horizon Court for cheeses, crackers, cold meat, etc. to have on our balcony with a drink while the ship left port. Drink at Wheelhouse Bar. Not much action here, but a few people dancing to a combo. After dinner we went to the 50's Rock N' Roll Party. Lots of fun!!! The singers and dancers performed in a casual atmosphere. There was dancing and a few contests. March 8: At Sea I sat in the sun. There weren't many chair hogs. You could always find a place at the front of the ship a deck above the pool. There were a lot of decks with chair available if you didn't have a need to be by the pool. Most sea days I got food from Horizon Court and ate by the pool. My husband enjoyed the pizza and hamburgers at the pool grill. He spent some time in the library, which is very quiet. You can listen to music, read, and watch the water. Went to the Wine Tasting for $7.50 each. It was okay, but don't feel a need to go to another. Before dinner had cocktails at Crooner's Martini Bar. It was my favorite because there were windows so you could see the ocean or you could people watch as it is right on the atrium. If you like chocolate martinis you must have the Milky Way martini!! Dinner was French night, so Escargot was a must!! March 9: Panama Canal Up at 5:45 as we didn't want to miss any of the Panama Canal transit. You cannot do the pre-order breakfast (where you hang it on your door the night before) until 7 AM, so we called room service. You can order most things they have available on a daily basis. Delivery was prompt. We watched the transit through the Gatun Locks from our balcony. Left our balcony door open and the Princess Station on our TV turned up loud enough to hear the commentary as we entered the locks. At 9:30 AM they begin to tender those with excursions to the Gatun Yacht Club. If you don't have an excursion scheduled you stay on the ship and anchor in Gatun Lake until the ship is given a time to go back out the same three locks you entered through. We had chosen the Ocean to Ocean. It was an hour and a half bus ride to Gamboa, where we boarded a boat that probably held 200. We sat on the top deck in the front as wanted a clear view. It was a very hot day and it took us a long time to get through the 3 locks into the Pacific. They put two ships or boats in the locks if possible to save water. We had a huge cargo vessel going with us and it took quite a while for it to catch up with us and get into the locks behind us. We are not bothered by the sun or the heat so enjoyed our seats. There were benches in the shade and inside where it was air-conditioned for those that don't do well in the heat. Yes, it was a long day, but we loved every minute of it. Apparently some did not enjoy the excursion as much as we did. We docked on the Pacific side at Flamenco Island and were bused back to the port of Cristobal where we met the Island Princess. Due to the time it took to got through the locks, we were the last group on board before the ship pulled out. Being a ship sponsored tour, being late was not an issue. We loved going through the locks in a smaller boat so you could see more of the locks, travel through the Culebra Cut, and hear more about the Panama Canal. If you are doing this excursion, though consider the time and temperature factors. March 10: Limon We did the Costa Rican Adventure which was an aerial tram through the rain forest, lunch and a boat through the Tortuguero Canal. It left at 6:45 AM and returned to the ship at 6 PM. Again, we enjoyed it and would recommend it. If that is too long for you just do the canal part which can be booked by itself. Enjoyed the tram through the rain forest, but saw no animals and is something you probably only need to do once. Lunch was at an open sided roofed building. It was Costa Rican food...rice and beans, chicken, steak, pantian, veggies, salad and a coconut dessert. It was excellent. The boat trip is definitely a "to do". Saw a lot of monkeys, 3-toed sloths, snake birds, hurons, bats, and crocodiles. March 11: At sea Entered the slot tournament; a first. You just pay $20 and get so many credits or pulls. The 6 that have the most credits after the pulls have a play-off and the high credits from that wins $500. Went to the ventriloquist, who was entertaining. Dinner was called International Night. It was Island Night and there was a big party around the Lido pool, but it was extremely windy all day and evening, so not a lot of fun on deck! March 12: Grand Cayman Left on early tender (7:30 AM) to do the Catamaran and Snorkel Stingray excursion. Get to Grand Cayman and Princess excursion person announces "due to wind and current that excursion was cancelled at 7:20 AM). There is a snorkel trip to two places at 8:30 AM they will put us on or credit us with the original excursion. We decide to do the 8:30 AM excursion. Then about half an hour later we are the only ones interested so can't do that either. The excursion guy, Kevin says we can go on the same one with a group from Royal Caribbean at 10 AM. Meet at the same spot. Kevin leaves and at 9:30 we see RCI people at a different tender spot. I ask the excursion guru who replaces Kevin and he says "all Princess excursions meet here" and he doesn't know anything about our substituted excursion. He is very short with us and no help! (Not good!) On our own we go to where the RCI people are boarding a snorkeling boat and join them. The man, Kevin originally told us to go with us welcomes us, takes our Princess excursion ticket and we had a great snorkeling excursion with RCI people to the Cheeseburger reef and a shipwreck not far from the tender pier. Thank heavens my husband was aggressive enough to go to the RCI excursion area and find the guy in charge of that particular trip. Ended up to be a GREAT snorkeling adventure, but I feel Princess let us down! Found out later that people who booked independent trips went and it was windy, but just fine! Should have taken the advice of all you CC's who said "book the stingrays on your own". Next time, eh? Shopped a little, then ate lunch at Breezes...overlooking the water and all the ships anchored.....on their outside balcony! Had a wonderful Conch salad! Back to the ship for pool time. Second formal night, reception for returning passengers, pictures and another great meal!! Our waiter brought us a platter of fabulous cookies besides desserts! March 13: Cozumel Room Service for breakfast on our balcony again! Princess Catamaran Excursion to Palancaar and Columbia Reef. Great catamaran ride to excellent snorkeling spots. Super crew. They snorkeled with us and searched out the best fish and turtle sightings for us. They were very safety conscious and made sure everyone had a good excursion. Back to the ship to clean up and back to Cozumel to shop and have a snack at Panchos (overlooking the water and pier). Back for my daily fix at the casino, but actually came out ahead! March 14: Thought I would not dread my last day on board after a 10 day cruise....WRONG! Not ready for a glorious vacation to come to an end. Another very windy day, so no breakfast on balcony. Pool day and time to pack! One last martini at Crooners and time to purchase last minute pictures. One more trip to casino and some time listening to Karaoke. March 15: Routine disembarkation. Thanks CC's for the advice to use a porter. No line. They take you promptly to a taxi. A word of warning.......the Ft. Lauderdale airport is a zoo.....even on Monday! You have to be off the boat so nothing else to do but go to the airport. If you have an afternoon flight with Northwest, you cannot check in until after 12 noon, even if you are first class. However the check-in machines let you check in, so it is a bit confusing when a Northwest agent yells at you, pounds a sign and says he is tearing up your luggage tags. Then you try to check in after noon and the machine you have to use to check in tells you that you have already registered 2 pieces of luggage per person so will be charged $80 for the only 2 you are really trying to check. Of course, heaven forbid if a real person can help you with this matter! It looked like only Northwest had this policy and other airlines were handling the large numbers quickly and with courtesy. The worst part is there is nowhere to store your luggage, so you have to keep it in tow. You are then stuck in the check in area where there are very few seats, no restaurants, no snackbars, no news stands, etc. Ft. Lauderdale airport and most of all Northwest need to deal with this problem. However, we refused to let such trivial matters ruin a fabulous vacation that we would repeat in a heartbeat!!! Once we got checked in, flights went well and we returned to SNOW! General comments: • Room B431: Our first mini-suite....loved the bigger bath and extra space. We were first on the middle bump-out, facing the front of the ship. That balcony is a little smaller than the normal Baja bump-outs. If you have seen pictures of the first balcony on bump-outs, you have awesome views, but if there is any wind you are not protected at all. This made it hard to have night balcony time or balcony time when on the move. Next time I would probably pass on that balcony situation as I like to spend late nights on the balcony, as well as snapshots of us on it before going out! Perfect location though....midship, close to elevators and stairs. • Too much pushing of shots and double drinks • DJ needs to start at 10:30 PM, not midnight • Need less $20 pictures. Either lower the price so you sell more and make more 5 X 7's for $10 • Heard lots complaints on this board about the food. I thought it just fine and ever bit as good as our first 2 Princess cruises. Can't compare to any other lines. Sorry this got so long! Yes we would do this cruise again and no we were not disappointed in Princess! Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
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