I want to start by saying that this review is for people who are very careful in choosing their cruises and value opinions of fellow travelers. It is not negative, as you might think at first. I tried objectively to point out things that ... Read More
I want to start by saying that this review is for people who are very careful in choosing their cruises and value opinions of fellow travelers. It is not negative, as you might think at first. I tried objectively to point out things that were different on this ship/cruise and things that we did not enjoy. If you cruise for itinerary or just cruise on every ship there is, you would not pay attention to reviews anyway. However, if all you can do is one cruise a year and you look forward all year to that cruise you might find my points helpful. I will not go over obvious things like food on Princess is better then on Carnival, service on Princess is better then on NCL, or entertainment in general is more interesting and more varied here then on Holland America but much less so then on Carnival. My purpose is to describe our experience with Caribbean Princess and not to generalize about cruises or Princess Company.
We just returned from our Eastern Caribbean Cruise on Caribbean Princess. This was our 12th cruise all together, and 2nd cruise on Princess. We have cruised on Sun Princess 3 years ago and were not impressed with service and amenities of this line. However, we decided to try this ship and this company again because we were told that this is a grand class ship and very different from anything else afloat. For the first time we took out kids and my parents along on the cruise.
To begin with, we were not impressed with this ship and do not think that it has more class than any other ship. Moreover, we were overwhelmed by crowds, lines and just mass of people on this ship. We sailed with a full ship of 3200 people onboard. There were constant lines everywhere you could not get a table, a lounge chair, a drink, a seat at the theater, a seat at the lounge, or simply get on or off the elevator. The ship was not designed to hold 3200 passengers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You could feel the lack of space everywhere. You had to come to the theater 40 minutes before the show just to have a sit. You had to have lunch at the buffet at odd hour in order not to stand in the line for 20 minutes. One day after standing in a buffet line for 15 minutes, I walked with a plate of food for another 15 minutes on deck 15 just trying to get a table, and after not finding one I just settled for a lounge chair that miraculously was available. Most annoying on this ship were hordes of people everywhere. You could not find a quite place. There were never chairs available at the game room, at the lounge, or at the club. Since I had to accommodate for my kids and my parents, I was running up and down the stairs all day long because I could not get on the elevator for the life of me. Now from the beginning:
The embarkation area is not big enough to handle 3200 people out of the ship and 3200 people in the ship. It is a mess. We arrived at 11 am and people were still leaving the ship, the line to get onboard was about 1500 people. Doors opened at noon and after that the process went very smoothly. By 1 pm we were onboard.
We dropped our bags and went exploring the ship. We were looking forward to seeing a big screen movie theater. It was impressive and kids liked it. The best about it was night time watching when pool is closed and you are just relaxing under a warm blanket. They have second run for most movies, however selection was very poor. They mostly had last year movies for kids Finding Nemo, Shrek, Incredibles and pretty old adult movies Shall We Dance, Pirates of the Caribbean, Tina Turner in concert. So even thought it was a good idea, and we hoped to catch up on newer movies, we did not use it because selection was very limited. (To compare to Celebrity, they were playing all new releases in their theater last year).
I have to say a few good words about the spa. They have great variety of treatments available and some of them are very reasonably priced. I took a tour of the spa, and would use it if I was on the ship without kids and parents. This trip I had no time for myself. I used the beauty salon and was impressed with Ken, who colored and styled my hair. Most of the people at the spa and salon are impressive.
Overall, the ship is very tastefully decorated, very nice colors and scheme selection, and very relaxing environment. However, atrium is too small and not very impressive. (To compare to Carnival, there were no 11 story atrium on this ship. It is also not as wide and spacious as RCCL). Crooner's piano lounge is jammed in the corner with only a few tables and always full of people. Club Fusion is a great idea and a very useful space. The only one that seemed to have empty chairs at most times. Skywalker is the ship-top disco with a magnificent view and poor music selection (calypso, western, English bands). The Wheelhouse Bar has musical duet with less than average musical abilities. They also have quartet but we never seen or heard them on the ship. Explorers' Lounge is another nice place that is used as movie theater, comedy club, art auction center, and for all other purposes. It is also crowded most of the time.
The environment had changed to the better since our last cruise on Princess. And service had improved. They were still forcing you to buy cola stickers, but only on the first day. You still got myriads of sale flyers in your mail slot, but we just learned to toss them without reading. You still got annoying announcements about art sales and such, but we learned to tune them out. The shops are small and not very broad selection, however they had very beautiful Italian made costume jewelry and some nice shawls and purses. I got snubbed by cosmetic sales girl for asking her about newer cosmetic line of Lancôme, otherwise it was ok.
Our cabin was on Baja deck with covered balcony. Cabin (203 sq ft) was too small for 4 of us and balcony was small, the shower was laughable. Room attendant was good, service was good. I was surprised to see the balconies below us without cover and privacy. I knew that some were covered and some were not, but this was ridiculous. My husband and I enjoy private dinners late at night and sometimes get intimate on the balcony, but on this ship you felt exposed no matter on what deck you were. Food was an experience on this ship. Buffet featured long lines, crowded rooms, permanently occupied tables, and mostly cold food. Dining room had poor selection, food was tasteless, and there was nothing delicious, special or gourmet. We are used to soups, salads, and lots of vegetable dishes for our everyday meals, but also enjoy gastronomical adventures that are usually available on most ships. Here was an exception. Most of the nights, I had shrimp dishes because there was nothing else to choose from the menu. I had soup once, lobster bisque, and it was just so-so, the rest of the nights soups were uneatable. You had to go to the buffet to get a good salad, and also I had to find some food for kids (they do not eat cheeseburgers, pizzas, and hot dogs) and it was an ordeal. Few nights we went to the dining room to avoid crowds at the buffet and after not finding food that kids or parents can eat at the menu, had to return to the buffet at a later time. We solved food problem by ordering juices and fruits to the cabin each morning, and having salads for lunch, dinner was problematic most nights. One night they had Indian cuisine, another night Creole, next night Chinese/Japanese, next night Caribbean/Jamaican needless to say we hoped for some nice Italian, French, or American dishes. We are not big meat eaters, so we did not go to Sterling Steakhouse. And I could not justify $120 for Italian meal on the ship at Sabatinis.
Room service offered a selection of cold sandwiches and Caesar salad. I am used to ordering veggie tray with dips, cheese and pastry trays from room service to have with our wine on the balcony. On Princess you had to pay extra for these items. I also did not order in-cabin dinner service for $50 per person because of the lack of space in the cabin and no privacy on the balcony.
Entertainment was a huge disappointment. The 750-seat Princess Theater is always crowded; you cannot reserve chairs there and have to be there at least 40 minutes before the show in order to get a sit. The so-called production shows were amateurish at best. I was ashamed to have my parents next to me on these shows after I raved about other shows on Carnival and Celebrity to them. There were in total 4 comedians, 2 English singers, magician, juggler, 2 production shows, and crew entertainment night. We walked out on most of them. After 12 cruises, this was the WORST entertainment ever !!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My school plays were more professional than that. They had no choreography, no great dancers, no special effects, very limited costumes and terrible decorations.
I do not know if this is what they have on all Princesses sips now, but it was very different 3 years ago. We are used to one Broadway style show, one Las Vegas show and one music and dance show on the 7 night itinerary. Here they had 2 music and dance shows and both of them unprofessional and just a pretty lame affair. Because of the young kids, we could not go to the late night parties. So champagne waterfall at 11:30 pm was too late for us to attend. Midnight dance party at Skywalker was also out of reach. Tropical dance party was nothing special, just your typical island party music and dances. Huge Huge Huge disappointment with entertainment.
Port stops were very nice; Princess Keys is a wonderful stop. They have provided everything on the beach including food and did not overlook any details. St. Thomas is beautiful as always. And St. Martin became one hot island since the last time we visited. Many great shops, beautiful beaches, French designer clothes, nice promenade.
Overall, ship is too crowded; it cannot and should not accommodate more than 2500 people. It has no room and no facilities for 3200 people. Crew tried to do their best and they were able to achieve amazing results with little space that the ship has. They work twice as hard as on any other ship just trying to cover for the lack of space. The service was very good and everyone was very nice and helpful considering the limitations.
My husband was very disappointed with the cruise and rated it below expectations. My kids liked child care onboard and enjoyed going there and watching movies on the big screen. My parents were disappointed with swarm of people, poor food selection and bad entertainment. I wouldve had a better time if we were cruising alone, my husband and I, without kids and parents. But since I had no great hopes to begin with, I think that it met my expectations except for entertainment, lack of space, and crowds of people.
European Cruise Lines (4), Regency Cruises (1), Carnival (1), NCL (1), RCCL (1), Celebrity (2), and Princess (2). Read Less