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Sail Date: January 2008
First time cruising, had no idea which line, what to do, how much money should I bring, all the stupid questions running through my mind. Decided on the Ruby Princess for no real good reason, I think because it was the newest ship, ... Read More
First time cruising, had no idea which line, what to do, how much money should I bring, all the stupid questions running through my mind. Decided on the Ruby Princess for no real good reason, I think because it was the newest ship, whatever that had to do with it!!! Landed in Miami on Jan 17th, met the Princess Rep, Eileen, told her we had to get luggage, retrieved luggage, turned around , Eileen is no where to be found, had a rep paged, nothing. Finally a competitor rep, Norwegian, helped us out. We though such a wonderful way to start our first cruise. Driver of bus to ship said there was a accident on Rte 95, so it will take was longer to get there as he is taking side roads, Scenic South Miami!!!! After a little over an hour, there it was in all it's shining glory. Found our state room on the Baja Deck, introduced to our cabin person, Dragos from Yugoslava. He could not do enough for us. He had 19 rooms, but it seemed like he was our personal guy. We ate at the Buffet all the time, did not experience the dining room, although I heard it was OK. At the breakfast buffet, stay away from the scrambled eggs, OMG I am pretty sure they are powdered. Every pasta dish they had was cooked perfect, al dente. Prime Rib and such meat was over cooked a bit, but still tasty. With all I ate, I was surprised I had gained only 4 pounds. As for the islands we visited, (we, meaning me and my ex-wife, that's right, ex), Jamaica was horrible. Did the Sting-ray thingy and got to hold the slippery sucker for 90 seconds. I took a picture and got scolded for it. Then we went to Dunns Falls which was very cool. But after, you get attacked by natives. I gave the guide a tip of $10 and he actually said it was not enough!!!! Was approached by this guy who told me to inspect his hands, like I had no idea what hands were, and tried to sell me knick-knacks for $45. I offered $5 and his 'relatives' heard me. All hell broke loose. They were yelling at me. He came down to $35, then $25, then $12, then after I heard for the umpteenth time that "I no respect him, mon", he came down to $8. Finally he came down to $5, and I was so irritated, I told him no sale, that "He did not respect me, mon" Did not even bother going to town, went right back to the ship for a few frozen pina colodas. Grand Caymen was great, road horses on the beach, walked the streets, met great people on the back streets. Visited a few shops. Cozumel was also a great experience. Hired a taxi on-line. (cozumeltaxi@hotmail.com). Lazaro was our guide. Absolutely wonderful. Took us out of the tourist areas, showed us his neighborhood, then went to the other side of the island where therre is no electricity, plumbing. Just a couple of restaurants on the shore with great frozen pina coladas. It cost us $120 for the four hours, which was well worth it. The last island was in the Bahamas, Princess Cays. Now this place is exactly where I want to spend a week. Secluded, nice beaches, little barbeque going and of course, frozen pina coladas. I would love the ship to lower anchor and have the tenders bring me back and forth. If it is your first time cruising, just think of the feeling of having nothing on your mind, Can't do it, huh!!! Well, go on a cruise. Getting off the ship in Fort Launderdale was effortless, mark your suitcases well, buy polka dot ones or tie a brightly colored bungy cord around them, because there must of been a sale on black and blue luggage. Bussed back to airport, and hung around for a few hours, finally read a newspaper. Break is over, now I have to get back to shoveling, as mother nature is dumping 6 inches in my driveway. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2008
After being on many other cruises, this was the absolute worst! We could only compare it to a repositioning cruise. If you ever did one, you know what I mean! Our destinations were: San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. Georges (Grenada), ... Read More
After being on many other cruises, this was the absolute worst! We could only compare it to a repositioning cruise. If you ever did one, you know what I mean! Our destinations were: San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. Georges (Grenada), Bonaire, Aruba and back to San Juan. They should rethink Grenada and Bonaire. Absolutely nothing worth seeing on these islands. Unless you scuba or snorkel. The amount of time spent on these islands would have been better served with more time in St. Thomas and/or Aruba. We spent 11 hrs. in St. Thomas (7 am - 6pm), fabulous! 8 hrs. in St. Kitts (it's ok). 5 hrs. in Grenada (what a dump!). 8 hrs. in Bonaire (never left the ship for this one) and 9 hrs. in Aruba (fantastic!). The weather was just plain horrible with high seas and high winds. The ships TV said "Gale force winds", something like 26 knots every night while we sailed. Surely not their fault, but still more of a nuisance listening to the wind through a sliding door that doesn't seal right! While cruising to other ports at night our outside furniture was rolling back & forth smashing into the balcony dividers.This brings me to our cabin. Nothing at all like the picture online. We had told them about our anniversary and asked to have the room decorated. It wasn't. On the 4th day I finally called and they scotch taped 3 balloons outside our door. Nothing like RCCL! On to our steward Francis. Our anniversary pkg. included a full bottle of champagne, which we did receive, only we didn't drink it for a couple of days. My wife was feeling ill and I took her to the Dr. in sick bay. They told her she had a little cold! She gave her a bottle of Robitussin and a box of Sudafed. (Meanwhile we found out she had walking pneumonia when we got home) For this they charged us $120.00 and never put a stethoscope to her chest! My advice, don't get sick on a cruise! This went right along with horrible room at the Holiday Inn in San Juan (Carolina). We had to exchange our room (Executive Suite 6th fl. ocean view) for a room in which we could smoke (on the terrace) around the pool. When we opened the door to our room, the stench of mold and mildew made us step right back out! To make a really long story short, we left with no refund! $461.61 for 2 nts. gone! The Embassy Suites right next door, gave us a King bed smoking room for $530.00 - 2 nites. They had a casino and an Outback restaurant inside (never ate there but did have a drink). Our stay was just fine. We stayed at the Condado Plaza & Hotel Casino upon our return from the cruise. It was decent enough although the six pack of Coors Light @ $36.00 was skunked and expired in Aug. 07'. Back to the Crown Princess! The people that work on this tug should give up their day jobs! On our 1st day pool side, we got a drink immediately. Then it took a half hr. to get somebodies attention. I could have walked over to the bar but it was 3 deep! Now I know why! You couldn't find a waiter! When I did get to order, he brought the wrong drink! This was typical of all I had encountered. Our 1st "Formal" night we went to "The Crown Grill" ($25.00 pp)it was just awful! All of our side dishes were cold to almost warm! I had the Ribeye steak med. and my wife had the Petite Filet Mignon. Mine was over done and hers was under done. We had ordered a bottle of wine ($54.00) had 2 cocktails before dinner and our bill was $153.00! I actually made them go over the bill so I could understand how they were billing me. Highway robbery! Our reg. dining room seating was the late seating. We never went. It was on the 4th deck aft (the Botticcelli) & we were on deck 15 forward. 900 ft forward and 11 stories away, with no single way to get there without going outside into the winds.The 2nd "Formal" night we went to the Michael Angelo dining room. We chose open seating and sat with some very nice people. 2 couples were from England and the other couple were from Calif. They all concurred with us about the horrible food! Heres an example: Caesar Salad - a soaking wet mess! It looked just like the creamed spinach! Inedible! My NY strip, tough as nails. Even the soup "Root Veg." tasted like dirt! We got up and left. No reason to try anything else. The buffet food was ten times better! Only you had to deal with the "beasts at the trough"! A bunch of (what I would classify as) trailer park trash, including the smell of body odor. They would push their way in and reach right in front of you to get at the food. Totally classless! We had never run into that on RCCL! Even the casino couldn't make up their mind if it was smoking or non-smoking! Sometimes you could and sometimes you can't. I just don't get it? We will never cruise on Princess again. Way too many people and the fact that tips are already included means they get tips no matter how well or poor they perform. In our opinion, by lowering the price of a cruise, they have opened the flood gates for the masses only to be unable to cater to any, let alone all of them! I would of had more fun burning the $7000.00 than taking this cruise! Oh! I almost forgot. We went to the Crown Grill for disembarkation which is for "Platinum Club" members. Heres what you could get: coffee, OJ, water (glass) and a stale danish! That was it! No mamosa'a or any cocktails were available. The used plates sat on our table from 7:30 till 10:45 were still there when we finally left! Quite a few other passengers also were complaining about this ship, especially the staff & food! So we weren't alone!They can keep the Crown and any other Princess ship! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2008
We did the three night Vancouver/Victoria pre-cruise tour. We stayed at the Four Seasons for two nights. We arrived about an hour before the official check in time so our room wasn't quite ready. They sent us to the bar for a ... Read More
We did the three night Vancouver/Victoria pre-cruise tour. We stayed at the Four Seasons for two nights. We arrived about an hour before the official check in time so our room wasn't quite ready. They sent us to the bar for a complimentary drink while we waited. The room was beautiful - a corner room on the 14th floor. The view was great! We had one day to explore Vancouver on our own, and then boarded a motorcoach (then ferry) to Victoria. Timing is everything. We happened to be in Victoria for Victoria Day, so everything was packed with people. They even had a marching band competition going on across the street from the Empress hotel. Our tour guide, Billy Raegh, was fantastic. Very entertaining, very friendly, very accommodating. In Victoria, we spent a few hours at Buchart Gardens. I don't think there is ever a bad time of the year to visit the gardens! Some of our party was anxious to get to the Empress in time for High Tea. Instead of doing the city tour immediately following the Gardens as planned, Billy took us to the hotel. For those of us that skipped the tea, we had some time to rest and have dinner before regrouping at 7pm for an evening tour of Victoria. This was a terrific idea - the tour was so much more leisurely and enjoyable without the crowds. My only critique of this pre-cruise tour was that the Empress is on the shabby side. We had furniture in our room that was scratched, torn, or broken. It wasn't just that we got a bad room either. One of our cruisemates had a toilet on the blink. Another had a mini-fridge that made horrible noises. We had been warned about wet weather in May, but the drive to the ship was the only time that we were rained on all trip! Embarkation was very smooth. Maybe just 15 minutes from the time we left the motorcoach until we were boarding the ship. This was our first time cruising in a full suite. It will be very hard for us to do anything less in the future! Having all that extra space, including the extra large balcony, was worth it. The other perks were appreciated as well. One of our favorites was the complimentary laundry service - going home with clean clothes was a real treat! We did Anytime Dining, and never had to wait more than a couple minutes. We typically asked for a table for two, but those tables are very close to another table for two. It's more like a table for four. We didn't mind though. We enjoyed everyone that we met on board. There was a nice variety of options on the menu, but food tended to be a little on the bland side in the dining room though. We tried the Bayou Cafe - this was definitely our best meal and well worth the cover charge. We ate at the Horizon Court once for lunch. No complaints. We did pizza once too. Also good. We decided to renew our vows and opted for the Deluxe Package. Irving coordinated all the details for us, and it was really special. The ceremony was in the chapel. We had stuck our head in the chapel earlier in the day when it was set up for computer classes. We were a little worried about how it would look for the ceremony, but there was no need. It was very nice. The flowers were beautiful, and very long lived. We had the bouquet in our stateroom all week, and it never faded. As part of our package, we were able to do a Bridge Tour. Very fun. There was a group of about twelve of us. Lots of interesting tidbits to learn on that tour. Also, the package included a massage or facial for each of us. We decided to upgrade to a couple's massage. We were on tables, side by side, getting a massage at the same time. We did the Misty Fjords Explorer in Ketchikan, Whales and Trails in Juneau, and Explore the Yukon in Skagway. We really gave the digital camera a workout in all three places! This was a great sampling - we saw glaciers, wildlife (whales, sea lions, bald eagles, otters, a black bear, and sled dogs), the rainforest, waterfalls, and gorgeous lakes. Another highlight for us was meeting Libby Riddles (and her dogs). She autographed books, and gave a nice talk about her experiences in the Iditarod. Cruising through Glacier Bay and College Fjord were both incredible too. You felt like you were so close to the glacier, but when it calved and the sound took so long to get to you, you realized how far away you really were. Disembarkation was as smooth as embarkation. Overall, this was a fantastic cruise. The ship was beautiful, the service was excellent. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
My new husband and I sailed on the Golden Princess for our honeymoon, and we had an amazing time! This was our first time on a Princess cruise. We both had an extensive cruising history, he with Royal Caribbean and me with Cunard and ... Read More
My new husband and I sailed on the Golden Princess for our honeymoon, and we had an amazing time! This was our first time on a Princess cruise. We both had an extensive cruising history, he with Royal Caribbean and me with Cunard and Holland America. We were so thrilled with the whole experience. We would definitely sail on Princess again! Embarkation: A breeze. We arrived approx. 11am, and were on board at 12:15pm. We were the first group to arrive, and it felt like the crew on board were not really prepared for us, as there was no one on board to greet us, except for the guy selling soda cards. We had no idea where to go, but we eventually figured it out. It would have been nice to have a little direction once on board, but no problems. Cabin: We had a mini-suite on Dolphin deck. Much discussion about uncovered balconies, but we were very pleased with ours. The amount of space and storage is very generous for 2 people. One problem, with 2 twin beds pushed together, it creates a little bump in the middle. Not sure why, and certainly not comfortable, but we had some laughs about it throughout the trip. Our cabin was right across the hall from the laundry room, but we never heard any noise from the machines or from people going in and out. It was so great to have close access to doing laundry. Food: With all the cruises we've been on, we can say that the desserts were the best we've ever had. They look beautiful AND are actually tasty. The food selection for lunch and dinner was so varied and with great international flavor. With the exception of prime rib on the first and last night, there was never a repeat of an appetizer, soup, or entree choice, and we really appreciated the chef taking the time to come up with a creative menu to keep things different. Also, it was wonderful having Pacific Rim dishes to try, in the spirit of the ports we were visiting. We were assigned Canelletto, but we had asked for a table of 2, and apparently, there are no such tables in that dining room. They were able to accommodate us in Donetello, which is anytime dining. However, they assigned a table for 2 and dining time to us for the entire cruise, and it was perfect. We loved our waitstaff, who were both professional and very friendly. Buffet breakfasts and lunches in the Horizon Court were greatfood hot and fresh, plenty of choices, and we could eat inside or outside. Public Rooms: The ship was beautiful very elegantly decorated in tasteful colors and designs. All the rooms were in great shape, no wear and tear in sight. We loved the Princess theater, with a great view from every seat. We wished the Vista Lounge had better all around views, but the seats are too level to the stage. Still a great room, though. The atrium was a favorite spot of ours, to enjoy pre dinner cocktails and beautiful music, or just to engage in people-watching in the middle of the day. Shipboard activities: There was no shortage of things to do onboard during our sea days. The activities were nicely geared toward Hawaii culture and history. Also plenty of other traditional cruise activities. The cruise staff was great in keeping people informed and involved. The cruise director in particular was everywhere! We would have liked to have had Catholic Mass on board, as other cruise lines do. Entertainment: We had mixed feelings about the entertainment. We thought the shipboard singers and dancers were great! The choreography, singing and dancing was really enjoyable, and they put their hearts into it to entertain the guests. We also loved the string quartet and featured pianist, a Russian guy, and we listened to them not only in the atrium and at tea, but also at their featured concerts. The guest entertainers were a mixed bag. We liked the magician and the first comedian. We felt the ventriloquist was okay. We really did not care for Don Ware, the final comedian. While he had some funny bits, the final night of his show, where he was headlined, for approx. 30 minutes, all he did was recognize various people in the audience for their service policemen, firefighters, teachers. Now I'm not saying these people didn't deserve recognition, but this guy was hired to do comedy, and as headliner, with about 45 min. of time to do a show, we couldn't understand why he would eat up 30 min. doing that. We got very little from him, and thought he really cheated the ship out of what they hired him to do. Very unprofessional, in our opinion. Shore excursions: All of our excursions were booked through the ship. We did a volcano bike tour in Hilo, the Arizona Memorial and city tour in Honolulu, and the surfing lesson in Maui. All were extremely well-organized and well-run, and the guides and instructors were top-notch. Also, the information the ship gave out to help people navigate on their own was very helpful for free time on the islands. Overall: We loved this trip and have recommended it to people back home. The ship was a happy ship. I've never seen a crew so relaxed and happy in their jobs, which filtered down to happy passengers. The service was very professional and friendly, without being overly "in-your-face". All the special touches really made it a great cruise. We can't wait to try Princess again!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2008
We booked princess for the second half of our honeymoon because we had heard it was on the level of celebrity, which we loved! It fell far short of our expectations in every way. Embarkation was ok, just a lot later than any other line ... Read More
We booked princess for the second half of our honeymoon because we had heard it was on the level of celebrity, which we loved! It fell far short of our expectations in every way. Embarkation was ok, just a lot later than any other line out of puerto rico...No one boarded until 2pm and there were still lines at 5pm of people trying to get on the ship. We showed up at 11am and waited until 2, which wasn't bad because we had a seat, but I'd have been so mad if I showed up at 2pm and was still in line at 5 since our boarding passes indicated we should show up after 2 for a speedy boarding. After embarkation was the normal, go to the Lido and get some lunch. Very bland food, below average and far below all other cruise lines including carnival. Talking to other travelers who were captain's circle members (princess exclusive cruisers) they said everything including the food has gone downhill since Carnival had taken over... possibly milking the name and letting it go under? Holland America Noordam (also owned by carnival) still had fabulous food and service as of March 08. Back to the Caribbean princess, the ship was plain, less decorated and less embellished than all other ships. Two of the only positive advantages was Crooners martini bar (and Burte Stratton pianist) and the movies under the stars. Most of the food was barely palatable other than the signature dishes offered every night on the menu, those were ok, bland, but ok. The chef is italian, but even the italian dishes lacked flavor. The crowning moment of how dismal the food was occurred the last night of the cruise. I ordered Mango Strudel... imagine eating mango so overcooked it had turned brown, tasted like a bad chewy sweet potato and had been salted and mixed with sour milk. That's about what it was like. My husband was appalled, which of course we went to have our dessert at the martini bar at least the gourmet olives there tasted better as a dessert. That about sums up the food. Entertainment was lacking other than the pianist in Crooners bar. Skywalkers nightclub had an awesome location at the back of the ship, but played only heavy rap and R&B other than themed disco nights. This was not exactly relaxing or fun for even us (25 yr old newly weds). Also, nothing happens there until after 10:15-at least they could have light easy music or jazz until the hooligans show up, but it was obvious in every single way that princess was cutting costs everywhere, but not exactly cutting cruise fare. Service was ok on deck and in the dining rooms, not great, but ok. Room service for us was horrible (Mercy was our woman). She was friendly enough, but after the first night, any clothes that were on the bed when she came to make it up got randomly thrown on the floor or on a chair. Maybe we were spoiled in the past, but every other steward on other ships neatly folded them as she had only the first night. Also, no towel animals. They have a demonstration but that was it. Most disappointing of all NO Chocolate buffet... but considering the dismal food in the dining room and lido, maybe I wouldn't want this chef's attempt at a chocolate buffet. Oh another thing with lido food-it was generally re-makes and left overs from the night before. Breakfast had last night's dinner rolls and breakfast had yesterday's afternoon french fries. The beds were the most uncomfy ever, I preferred sleeping on the floor and most of the time in a pool lounger the next day from all the tossing and turning. Something always fell asleep- If I was on my side, it was my arm (the bed is that horrible), on my back, my butt, on my stomach I couldn't breathe. I could go on and on about the downfalls, but bottom line is princess is being driven under by unhappy staff, bad food, mediocre ships and entertainment. Next cruise for us will be back on Celebrity or back on Holland america. Norwegian and Royal caribbean are also still considerations, although the other two are leagues ahead in food and service, which to me is half the reason to be on a cruise! :) Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
Background Information: We selected this cruise based on price, departure date, and itinerary. We were traveling for our honeymoon, and this was our first cruise. Ship Info: The ship was not as clean as I expected it to be (especially ... Read More
Background Information: We selected this cruise based on price, departure date, and itinerary. We were traveling for our honeymoon, and this was our first cruise. Ship Info: The ship was not as clean as I expected it to be (especially the windows). However, our stateroom was very clean and our cabin attendant was excellent. BIGGEST COMPLAINT: The boat rocked...ALOT...this was not normal we were told by other passengers who had cruised many times before. The waters were not rough at all, yet people were stumbling all over the place because the boat moved so much. My husband and I spent our first "at sea" day lying in the room sick ordering room service because we couldn't stand up. The roomer onboard was that there was some sort of problem with the stabilizers. Best advice if you go...don't use the gym (I think running on the treadmills while all this was going on did us in)...and get a room as low and in the middle of the ship as you can get. Activities: Lots of activities on board but more geared toward an older crowd (we are in our early 30s). The comedian on board was decent. Princess pop star was fun to watch. The shows in the theater were far from Broadway but entertaining none the less. MUTS was great...but bring warm clothes...the adult movies are in the evening and it gets chilly. Thermal suite is not worth the money for the week pass, because you won't use it on the port days if you have excursions planned...and most of the people I saw in there just walked in and didn't pay (they don't really monitor whether the people in there paid or not). Service: Dining room service was hit or miss (we had the anytime plan so we didn't have the same server each night). Our first night the server was beyond fantastic, most of the nights were so-so, and we had one night where the guy was just terrible. Shore Excursions: Best of St. Martin was nice...but not alot of time to shop in Margot, Meagans Bay in St. Thomas was FANTASTIC, Chukka Buggy Tour in Grand Turk was ok...but get the early tour...we did the late one and got eaten alive by mosquitos (the tour takes you into some wooded areas)...I counted 28 on one arm alone. Embarkation: Excellent, quick, and very organized. Stateroom: More room than I expected. Should have asked for a sheet in addition to the one blanket they give you...husband complained about that...he got warm at night. Disembarkation: Excellent, well organized, very efficient. Pros: Price, Ports of Call, Lots of seafood on the menu (we love seafood), Crown Grill (worth the extra $25 per person), & MUTS Cons: Too much movement on ship, too many kids in adult areas, not enough choices on the buffets, food choices for lunch were not great, sushi was beyond bad, too many announcements in the mornings (not great for people who like to sleep in on vaca), too many "extra charges" for things, spa was very expensive, elevators were REALLY slow. Overall we had an ok time...I think that maybe cruising just isn't for us. It just felt like we didn't get the kind of rest we would have liked, and there were always crowds and lines everywhere. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
This was our first time cruising with Princess! The ship is simply stunning and is laid out very well. We had a balcony stateroom on the Lido deck that was simply marvelous. The closet configuration is fabulous! It's almost set up ... Read More
This was our first time cruising with Princess! The ship is simply stunning and is laid out very well. We had a balcony stateroom on the Lido deck that was simply marvelous. The closet configuration is fabulous! It's almost set up like a walk in closet. There is plenty of space for clothes and suitcases. The bathroom is supplied with shampoo, conditioner, soap, and lotion for the spa. Also, you can request robes from your room stewart; they are plush! The tv's are equipped with quite a few good channels...news...sports..and several current movie channels for kids, adults, etc. The common areas of the ship were absolutely stunning! The decor is very grand; nothing is gaudy or taken over the top. We were very pleased with the dining room food selections. The buffet is good but very typical. There is plenty of seating with great views! The wait staff is extremely efficient even during the dining peak hours. I highly recommend eating at Sabatini's. Yes, there is a cover charge but it is well worth it! You will be fed more food then you can possibly eat, and it is all scrumptious! The wait staff is extremely friendly but also gives you privacy. I have a garlic allergy and the chef actually prepared from scratch the main courses I wanted garlic-free. I was extremely impressed! The pool area is fabulous! The lounge chairs are extremely "cushiony", the movies under the stars are fantastic- they play even during the day. I would recommend checking out the spa. While prices are steep, you can get discounts while the ship is in port. I highly recommend the bamboo massage; they roll pieces of bamboo on your muscles and it works out all sorts of knots! It's a unique and memorable experience. My husband and I are gym rats and were quite pleased with the fitness selection and classes. The yoga class was quite simple...nothing advanced. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
Arrived Saturday prior to cruise at 10:00 p.m. and stayed at the LaConcha hotel. Got it for $115 on Priceline which is a great deal since the rooms run $300+ per night. Hotel was completely sold out and as was mentioned in a previous ... Read More
Arrived Saturday prior to cruise at 10:00 p.m. and stayed at the LaConcha hotel. Got it for $115 on Priceline which is a great deal since the rooms run $300+ per night. Hotel was completely sold out and as was mentioned in a previous review the De La Hoya fight was being broadcast in the hotel and out by the pool with a big crowd. Hard to find any seats, but we couldn't hear it in our room (facing the ocean). One note here, I was told over the phone by people at LaConcha since we got our room through Priceline we couldn't get an ocean view room. This was not the case at all. We stayed before the cruise and after and both times had no problems getting an ocean view room with a balcony. Beware of the breakfast buffet in the Level 25 restaurant. It's $20 per person. We didn't know and wanted something quick on embarkation morning. Lesson learned. The pools were very good and service exceptional all over the hotel. I've stayed at many hotels and this was probably one of the nicest, with the best bed and pillows I have ever experienced. They also have a newly opened casino, which isn't large, but they give you free drinks if you play. Plenty of restaurants and a Walgreens near the hotel within walking distance. We walked to Walgreens and bought a case of water to take on board with us and got last minute essentials we didn't want to carry onto the plane. EMBARKATION: Okay, since this was our first cruise, we couldn't wait for embarkation (it was supposed to be from 2:00 p.m. and after 3:00 for faster service). We took a cab around 1:00 p.m. to the pier and were onboard by 1:30. Very small line, but it moved quickly. We brought our tequila and countreau with us in our rumrunners, packed in our checked luggage, and we had no problems getting it onboard. We could have bought our alcohol right at the pier and carried it on in our carry on. I saw a lot of people doing this and no one had their alcohol confiscated. The only problem I had was buying the "mixers" for my margaritas, which the liquor store did not have. So here I sat with my smuggled tequila and no way to make margaritas. Definitely a lesson learned. Always bring along your mix, or go to the store before boarding to get it. I should also note that I purchased some rum at St. Lucia and carried it right on in my beach bag. We went straight to our room on the Dolphin deck (mini suite) aft, and it was ready for our arrival. The bed had our egg crate, which was previously requested by fax, but we didn't have the robes. We had to request those from our room steward, Martin. While we didn't see Martin very often, he always took very good care of our room and always left us ice in the refrigerator. After dropping off our carryon luggage, we went to get lunch at the buffet. SHIP: the ship is definitely showing signs of wear, but it will all be revamped when it goes into dry dock in January. It was still very nice and beautiful. We never had any problems with A/C in any areas on the ship. DINING: We had anytime dining and LOVED IT! We never had a wait on any night, but we were willing to sit with others. The first night was the cold seafood buffet (lobster claws, crab legs and shrimp) in the buffet. You do need crab crackers for the lobster. We didn't bring any and had to use our forks to dig the meat out of the claws. The crab was split, so they were no problem. On the first formal night (Monday) the Caribe Cafe had lobster again (but not cold), so we had some appetizers before we had our formal dinner in the Palm Dining Room. We ate in the Palm dining room, because of the advice we got here on the board since it is hard to get to on the ship. We ate at both specialty dining restaurants, as we wanted to experience it all on our first cruise. Both were exceptional and my husband really loved Sabatinis, because of all the varieties of food you get to try. My favorite meal had to be the balcony dining. We decided on this to celebrate our anniversary. It cost $100 per couple, but well worth it. We got appetizers, crab quiche, salad, very thick filet mignon and a HUGE lobster tail, along with chocolate mousse for dessert. With all this came fresh roses, two cocktails, a bottle of champagne and our own private waiter singing happy anniversary to us. Our new friends were on the deck above us out on the balcony singing along with the waiter. What could be better? So romantic. We thought all of the food was very good, at all of the restaurants. We ate breakfast at the buffet every day as it had a large variety and only had problems on the last day finding a seat. This day was a mad house as everyone had to be out of their room by 8:00 a.m. so they were all in the buffet trying to eat breakfast. ENTERTAINMENT: We went to the Explorers Lounge to see Gary Delena at 7:00 p.m. No problems getting a seat if you get there a few minutes early. Otherwise it fills up pretty quick. Gary Delena is a comedian and was very funny. He had another show on Saturday night in the Princess Theatre so we went to that also, and sat on the front row. We also saw Dan Horn, who is a ventriloquist and he was good too. Both have been on Jay Leno and David Letterman, and well known. On Friday night we went to Club Fusion and signed up for the Marriage Game, similar to the Newlywed Game on television. We somehow got picked with two other couples and it was so funny and embarrassing as well with those questions! We didn't win, but had a lot of fun, and got a Princess bag and a rose. There were several other shows during the week but we didn't make them. PORTS OF CALL: We arranged all of our own tours with our new friends we met here on Cruise Critic roll call and saved a lot of money over the Princess excursions. DISEMBARKATION: We were the last to disembark since we were on the Dolphin Deck and didn't get called until 10:40 a.m. Everything went smoothly, but the line for a taxi was very long and had a long wait. It was not very organized. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
This was our first cruise on Princess Cruise Lines. The Crown Princess is a magnificent ship. It is clean, and comfortable. It is amazing how such a large ship has such an old world feel, with small areas broken up all over the place so ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Princess Cruise Lines. The Crown Princess is a magnificent ship. It is clean, and comfortable. It is amazing how such a large ship has such an old world feel, with small areas broken up all over the place so couples can feel as if they are all alone, and yet is you want to be right in the middle of the action, well, that's possible too.The staff is courteous and everything is up scaled and new,due to a recent renovation. There are flat screen TVs in the rooms and they have PC/Digital in the computer area. Small bar in the room, refer on request, robes, blow dryer and a great bed. I have a bad back and they put an "egg crate" type of foam on my bed. I wished I had asked them to set the bed in between the night stands, as I had to crawl across the bed to my side, which after a week was getting old. Next time, I'll let them know in advance. My husband ordered the Champagne Balcony Breakfast for Two and it was so nice. Brought to the room. Very sexy and romantic. We had a ball. The pools were freezing, but I must admit, it was my first time to go swimming on a cruise ship. Maybe they are all cold. The price was amazingly great, and getting to the ship was a snap. There is a parking garage right next to the ship. Very easy. I loved the closet and that there were laundry facilities on my deck. It made the trip a snap. The closet is a make or break decision for me now. There is a ton of space in the closet. Unlike RCL who's closets are tiny. We will go again are as a matter of fact as I write this, we are planning our next cruise, and it will probably be on Princess. I will tell you younger guys and gals that RCL is hotter for fun for the younger set in my personal opinion. There were young people on our cruise, but not nearly as many. I think Princess is for a middle age to older set. Just this writer's opinion. I'm 57 and didn't feel like the oldest person on board as i did on Royal. Although, enjoyed all 3 of our Royal cruises. I'm getting older and I think we'll be staying with Princess and will probably do the Solstice this year. Happy cruising. Hope this helps. If I were 35, I'd go on Royal. Our trip to Pirncess Cay was stopped due to inclement weather and high seas. A great dissapointment, but that isn't the fault of the line and I applaud their views on safety. I still didn't get sea sick even though we were in violent seas and high winds. The rest of the cruise was problem free. I'm not hot to trot to go back to the E.Caribbean as the W.Caribbean has it all over the East for beauty, however this isn't about that, this is about Princess, and excellent, enjoyable, and wonderfully professional cruise line. We will travel with them again. As a matter of fact, my 2-good friends are going again this year on the SAME SHIP, because their experience was flawless. for a no risk cruise, go Princess! For a slamming, glitzy, loud, fun, and roaring time, go Royal. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
Pre-cruise: Traveled from NC to Hilton Head Island, SC. We stayed at the Hilton Oceanfront Resort. Nice rooms, pools and beach view; crummy soundproofing and exterior. Not bad for the price we paid on Priceline; however, for a hotel that ... Read More
Pre-cruise: Traveled from NC to Hilton Head Island, SC. We stayed at the Hilton Oceanfront Resort. Nice rooms, pools and beach view; crummy soundproofing and exterior. Not bad for the price we paid on Priceline; however, for a hotel that normally sells for $150+ per night continental breakfast should not cost $13.50. Traveled from Hilton Head to Jacksonville, what should have been a 3 hour drive turned into nearly 10 hours thanks to traffic. Stayed at the Staybridge Suites. Very nice, newly built hotel. High definition flat screen TV in the room and complimentary hot breakfast buffet in the morning and thanks to Hotwire only paid $55 for the night. This hotel was proof why mid-priced hotels often offer more than expensive hotels (see continental breakfast comment above). Hilton Head to Fort Lauderdale proved to be a much smoother drive. We stayed at the LaQuinta Inn & Suites which offers free parking and shuttle to the port. Decent hotel, good price, and the only hotel that I know of that does not charge for parking. Paid $89 for the night, parking at the port for the 10 days would have been $150, so I can't (& won't) complain. EMBARKATION Arrived at the port at 11:30 and walked right through security and was placed into group 4 for embarkation processing. At 12:00 it was announced that it would be another 30 minutes before boarding would begin. Boarding actually did start around 12:45 and went very quickly from there. Once on board, I was told that embarkation was delayed due to extreme cleaning of the ship due to a Norovirus outbreak on the previous cruise. SHIP: One word - Beautiful. All areas of the ship exhibited a fine attention to detail in all public areas. Loved the atrium with the International Cafe and coffee bar. Emerald is a large ship that carries over 3,000 passengers, but did not feel crowded as there were plenty of small areas that provided refuge from the more crowded popular areas. CABIN: A253 - 2/3 of the way forward. This made for a long walk to the buffet, but the nearby elevator went straight to the 16th floor that offered access to the gym, Lotus pool and spa. This was nice when coming back from the pool or hot tub as there was very little walking and almost no traffic. The cabin was nice; the closet that is right outside the bathroom door is an excellent use of space. There were mirrors behind the bed, in front of the desk and on the wall which helped give the room a larger feel. The bathroom, while small, was more than adequate. However, when it came time to shave my legs, I gave up on the shower and used the toilet to put my foot up on and the sink for water. I think that shaving in that shower would be better left up to an Olympic gymnast. Our room steward, Ariel, left a lot to be desired. To give him credit, he did provide eggcrate foam, extra pillows and a top sheet within a couple hours of request. This was where the good service ended. Most days we did not have pool towels, glasses or fresh ice. He didn't seem to go above and beyond like most stewards when greeting us in the hallway he often would see us and walk the other way. The point when our experience with the room steward turned from bad to worse was when he did not get to our room one day until 2pm and we asked for 10 minutes to change clothes and he told us that this would not be possible as he was supposed to be off work already. We had an amazing room steward on our last cruise, so we may have been spoiled. From talking to others onboard, I feel that we were in the minority as most felt that there room steward was good/excellent. FOOD Both husband and I thought that the Horizon Court and Caribe Cafe were better than on the Grand last January. Dining room food was good, but not great. Everything was fine, but nothing spectacular. We requested a set reservation for the Da Vinci dining room at table 431 with Chris and Oliver. Both were great as was Oksana the assistant waiter at the neighboring table. Pizza, burgers, and fries up on deck were great. The club sandwich, chicken caesar salad, cookies and ice tea from room service were a staple in our cabin. We dine at the Crown Grill one evening. We went five days into the cruise and they were already out of the large Maine lobster that is an extra $9 charge, however, we ordered 2 of the smaller (free) lobster tails to go with our steaks and these were very good. The sides are served family style and are easily enough for 3 people per portion, so order sparingly. There was so much food we felt as if we ate one bite of each thing and were full (and we are big eaters). Experience was fine, but for $50 a couple, I don't know that I would go back as we would have been just as happy with the offerings in the dining room. ACTIVITIES We did not attend any of the lectures, art auctions, casino or other activities - so I can't comment. I did think that the production shows were entertaining and the special guests that were part of the cast were excellent. For New Years Eve, there was a Black and White Ball held in the atrium which was phenomenally decorated and set for a balloon drop that happened at midnight. The atrium and all surrounding floors did become very crowded leading up to midnight. There was another party out on the pool deck with the live band performing and the party was shown on MUTS. We stayed in the atrium for the countdown and then made our way out to the pool deck for some more partying. On New Years Eve, I saw something that could only be viewed on a cruise ship. There was a line for the special midnight buffet that was being offered and I saw multiple people eating pizza and burgers while waiting in line for the all you can eat buffet at 1am. KIDS We don't have any children, so I can't comment about this, but can say that with over 300 children on board I didn't see many so someone must keep them entertained. PORTS Princess Cays It was cooler than when we were there last January, so we didn't stay long. I would recommend bringing bug spray as there did seem to be little flying bugs everywhere. St Thomas Did the obligatory shopping and got the free trinkets. Did Sunny Liston's Island Tour (http://sunnylistontours.com)which was a couple hour tour of the island followed by a trip to the beach all for $25 per person. First beach we went to was Coki beach, the beach itself was very narrow and crowded and the area around the beach was cluttered and there were a lot of locals hawking there services and items. No one on our tour wanted to get off at Coki, so the guide took us to Sapphire Beach, which was a lot nicer. There was a hotel and beach bar/restaurant. There were a fair amount of people, but the neither the beach nor the water felt crowded. We did some snorkeling and saw some fish and corral. St Kitts Did Grey's Island Tour (http://www.thenfordgrey.com). There were only 6 of us on the tour and it was very informative and entertaining. If you are looking for a party bus, this is not the tour for you, but if you want information about the culture, past, present and future of this island and people Thenford Grey will provide. Both DH & I agree that this was the best island tour that we have been on. Mr. Grey was even kind enough to take 4 of the 6 of us back to the ship when we didn't want to stay and swim. Barbados Stayed on the ship. St Lucia Did Cosol's Tour (http://cosol-tours.com). There were several van loads of people that went along the same tour route with Cosol's tour. Although the website doesn't specifically say it they do provide a light island breakfast and lunch that are included in the price of the tour. WARNING: This tour was great and I in no way want to discourage anyone from taking it, but even if you are not prone to motion sickness, I would recommend taking some precaution before hand as two people on our tour got motion sick. If you are prone to motion sickness, I would recommend sitting as close to the front as possible. There was nothing wrong with the tour, it was simply that the roads were winding and sharp. St Lucia was one of the most beautiful island/places that I have ever seen and I would gladly go back. Antigua We did the ship sponsored tour - Circle Antigua by Sea with Lunch. This tour was awesome and well worth every penny that we paid. We were able to see some of the homes of the rich and famous, had a fabulous barbecued lunch along with rum punch and other tropical cocktails throughout the trip. The trip stops for about 2 ½ hours on a small island beach and you can swim, lounge or snorkel to a nearby reef. There was a lunch of chicken or fish, salad, coleslaw, rice, and pasta salad served on the catamaran. Even with around 100 people on board it never felt crowded. NOTES: While not completely a party boat, the tour guides do provide PG-13 entertainment that may not be appropriate for all kids. Also, there is approximately 20 minutes travel through the Atlantic that is a bit choppy and I would recommend taking it easy on the alcohol before this time and maybe taking some sea sick precautions before going. I only saw/heard about two people that got or felt sick. OVERALL This was a very nice vacation and one that I would gladly do again as well as each of the tours listed above. I would recommend each of these to anyone interested. We purchased 2 FCC (Future Cruise Credits) while on board and used then within 12 hours of being home, which should be an indication of our fondness for Princess and their product. Next Up: Alaska - Star Princess May 17th. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2009
We Liked:) * Most dinners (lamb chops, prime rib, chicken topped with shrooms & Fontina, king crab legs). * Most lunches aside from the burgers (low-grade). * Cabin steward was the BEST! Guy was like a ninja. * Comedian/juggler ... Read More
We Liked:) * Most dinners (lamb chops, prime rib, chicken topped with shrooms & Fontina, king crab legs). * Most lunches aside from the burgers (low-grade). * Cabin steward was the BEST! Guy was like a ninja. * Comedian/juggler was very funny and entertaining. * Availability of food. Prego's pizza & grill was going at 1:30 AM for MUTS. * Skywalkers is still the coolest club at sea. * Freshwater swimming pools. * Cold towels when getting back onboard from port days. * Most bands were good. * Champagne party even though more difficult to get a glass this time. * Disembarkation was smooth aside from the sheer mayhem that goes on outside of terminal trying to get a taxi, but that is Puerto Rico's fault. * Muster is as painless as they can make it. Much better than other lines. * Wife enjoyed 2 spa treatments, well sort of - see last bullet under "We did not like." We did not like(: * Lack of A/C in common areas. * Water fountains (hot water) and cardio equipment (old) in gym. * Most waiters were not properly trained and lacked motivation, in our opinion. Example, one guy tried to test a 2nd bottle of wine by pouring the test sip into a 1/2 full glass from 1st bottle. Also would not know to always take ladies orders first. * WORST breakfast in the world and HORRIBLE coffee, even by cruise line standards. * Some dinner items were embarrassingly bad inc. filet mignon (leather) and scallop & shrimp appetizer; Think $0.10 shrimp cocktail in Vegas quality. * Always a line at pursers which wasted our time when needed to check on our account; we had lots of credit to be used. * Comedian/magician put us to sleep. * Location of embarkation is away from the action of Old San Juan where Carnival and others dock. * Hard-sell of products in spa while wife still naked under sheet at end of her treatment left a bad taste in her mouth and ruined the whole experience. She left frustrated rather than relaxed. Okay, that's it! We had a terrific time with a few blemishes. Princess CB has room for improvement. Still, we booked an FCC and probably will go through with it. They changed the rules a bit because they are currently offering double OBC's. Only thing is that if you cancel you will get your $200 deposit back but lose the OBC. In other words, we had to pick an itinerary to get the 2x credits. If we change our mind, we lose the credits and can't switch itineraries. Rumors are true, Crown Grill still a work in progress. Lots of painting going on around the ship still, even at sea. You NEED to play the chair game when at sea if you want a decent spot. We hated that, but it is a part of life so keep it in mind when you go. There are signs about holding chairs for more than 30 minutes but guests would assist their friends, family, and new shipmates by speaking on the violator's behalf when inquiries were made. If you booked, you'll have fun but you will need to know it will not be a flawless cruise. The staff said the sailing prior to ours - 1st out of drydock - was a disaster. Maybe in a few months all will be back to normal. Many of the staff did not even know there way around the ship yet. Happy travels to all and hope this helps! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2009
We really had a wonderful time on the Crown Princess last January. We decided to cruise for our honeymoon and it was absolutely perfect. booking: We booked on the Princess website. After booking we were contacted by Billy, our assigned ... Read More
We really had a wonderful time on the Crown Princess last January. We decided to cruise for our honeymoon and it was absolutely perfect. booking: We booked on the Princess website. After booking we were contacted by Billy, our assigned Princess representative for those who book through the website. Billy was very helpful and gave us great tips for our trip. He also arranged for a special dessert one night in the dining room and also our room to be decorated. He booked hotels for us in Ft. Lauderdale and also airport transfers. arrival and hotel: We flew to Ft. Lauderdale the same day as our morning wedding. Needless to say we were dead tired by the time we got to Ft. Lauderdale. A Princess representative was waiting for us at the baggage claim. It was so nice to have our bags grabbed and be ushered to a bus without us having to think at all. The bus took us to the Marriott renaissance hotel. We tried to get off the bus, but the bus driver kindly suggested that we wait for the bellhop (we are not used to that kind of service) who came running to get our bags and take us to our room. The next morning we had to put our bags at pretty early for them to be picked up. We ordered room service for breakfast and eventually wandered down and checked out. There were alot of people milling around the lobby waiting for the Princess transfer. There was a Princess representative in the hotel who was friendly. We went through a slightly odd exercise of walking around a room where all of our baggage was- I never entirely understood what we were doing, and then we were put on busses. Embarkation: It was completely unmemorable and very quick. We were absolutely ecstatic- so happy to be married and to be together and to be setting out on a first adventure together as a married couple. Our luggage was delivered promptly to our cabin as we wandered about the ship. Dining: dinners: We had the anytime dining, which we really enjoyed and we ate all but one of our evening meals in the Michelangelo Dining Room. We never made reservations, just came to the dining room when we were ready to eat. (which was generally around 8-8:30) We were always seated at a table for 2 within moments of arriving. The maitre d was so nice to us and generally gave us a table by a window where we could see the waves crashing against the ship. The food was basically great. Just like at any restaurant we each got a couple of things that we didn't like, but most of what we had tasted great. The service was suburb. We had a bottle of wine with dinner each night. They will cork it for you and keep it for you for the next night, but we preferred for them to cork it and take it up with us to our room where we would finish the bottle on our balcony that night, or on the balcony the next afternoon. We did try the DaVinci dining room one night. It was more crowded and we were placed at a table for 6 with two other couples. The food and service were just as good, but one of the other couples was not having a very good time and spent the whole dinner complaining about Princess. Most of their complaints appeared to be things that were entirely their fault, not Princess's, but that made us decide we preferred just talking to one another. Lunch: We ate at the Horizon Court buffet a couple of times. It was fine, but nothing special. We did find it easy to find seats and were quickly served drinks. On one of the Sea days there was an pub lunch in the Wheelhouse pub which my husband loved. It's good, but quite a limited menu. If your idea of ideal food is bangers and mash it's definately the place to go. We also liked the pizza from the pizza bar by the Neptune pool. We were fairly unimpressed by the Trident Grill- a long line for hamburgers that were not very good. The pizza line was long too, but it tended to move very quickly. Breakfast: We ate on our balcony every morning except for the last day. We would put our order out in the evening and it always arrived exactly when we asked for it. Leisurely breakfast on our balcony in our bathrobes looking over the Caribbean is one of our most treasured memories. We loved it. The food was fine- continental breakfast, ie fruit cups and pastries, but having it delivered to us was just fantastic. On the last day we went to the dining room and had a very nice breakfast. Entertainment: Wheelhouse Bar: We went to the wheelhouse bar several times after dinner and enjoyed dancing to the live band there. We were generally the only ones on the dance floor. Adagio Bar: There was a particularly good piano player in the adagio bar. The service was also very good- maybe it helped that there was hardly anyone there. Wines & Vines: We love wine and had been looking forward to this bar. We went every night before dinner and had a glass of wine and sometimes 2. We were a little surprised that the service varied quite a bit there. Sometimes the bar tender knew quite a bit about the wine, but a couple of times the response I got when I asked a question was something along the lines of- I don't normally work in this bar. Pools: Interestingly enough when we first booked this cruise I had been really excited about Movies Under the Stars. However, it actually ended up irritating me that there was a constant movie/ television running around the pool. We preferred the adults only Terrace Pool, just because it was quieter and less crowded. We ultimately decided that our favorite place to relax was our very own balcony! Our room was very close to the Terrace pool so it was a simple matter for one of us to walk to the bar there and bring back a couple of cokes to our room. (We got the coke sticker which we think saved us a lot of money since it made us more likely to drink coke during the day rather than beer or mixed drinks.) Ports: We went to Princess Cays, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and Grand Turk. In retrospect I wish we had spent more time thinking about what we wanted to do in port. As it was we didn't even get off the boat in Princess Cays. On this trip we were all about relaxing and being with each other, rather than seeing a lot of new things. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2009
We are multiple cruisers 62(male and female) this being our 13th Princess Cruise. The Weather on this cruise was good with no rain, which is unusual for January. Most days were sunny and around 80. What was different about this cruise was ... Read More
We are multiple cruisers 62(male and female) this being our 13th Princess Cruise. The Weather on this cruise was good with no rain, which is unusual for January. Most days were sunny and around 80. What was different about this cruise was the demographics. "Newly wed and Nearly Dead", the old cruise adage applied, Well maybe not the newlywed part. The average age of cruisers must have been over 70. Many walkers, scooters etc. This was significantly different then our last cruise at this time of the year as in the past the average age was 50ish. The only problem with the elderly cast was that all the shows were very crowded. With a younger crew more people spend time in the casino, bars, on deck or they have kids. You had to go 30 minutes early to get a seat in some of the shows. Scooter people were very rude too. As always something seems to change from the last cruise. What we noticed was that princess eliminated the captains cocktail party except for the special party for return cruisers. They replaced it with just a champagne waterfall. Sometimes we omit formal night but this time we attended it and were disappointed that the first party has been canceled. It is a good chance to mingle and see how people dress. BTW, a tux was rare on this cruise(I don't rent one anymore either) Food was good, service was fine. We chose anytime dining. You could be seated immediately as long as you agreed to share. The cabin was nice. Ship furnishings were clean and well maintained. The Baked Alaska parade has also been canceled. The lobster was not much. Next time I order something else.You still cant go hungry on a cruise. There was no island party either. I always liked that. There did seem to be more dance classes. Line dancing, ball room etc. The exercise room was jam packed, I went there around 7am one day and could not get a treadmill. Must be the age of the passengers. Usually I like to run early and no one is up, not this cruise, people everywhere. Not a real problem I just used the jogging track. The track is too short and oval shaped tho and it bothered my knees. Same in the afternoon. Entertainment was more upscale then in the past. Larger cast of singers and dancers, bigger production numbers and a larger stage. The cast seems to have more experience too. They also had 2 comedians who were very good. Problem with the comedians was that they performed in the explorers lounge which was more conducive to dancing then a stage show. Hard to find a seat, but the shows were repeated so you could see it eventually. We ended up having 3 days at sea. The trip to princess cays was canceled at the last minute by the captain due to high winds. As always on sea days people saved chairs first thing in the morning and did not show up for hours. There were enough chairs tho so you could find something eventually. The deck bar service staff was new and inexperience. I ordered an absolute and sprite and it took 3 tries to get it right. The server brought me absolute then no sprite. Took a long time on deck to get drinks. The football games were on deck the day of arrival and the first day at sea. I liked that, it was good to be able to watch the games. Lots of people in team jerseys. Our stops were Grand Cayman. We went to 7 mile beach at the royal palms. Nice place. $5 cab ride, 7 for chairs and 10 for an umbrella. Water sports shack, good bar, 2 nice restaurants for lunch. Clean too. BTW, princess tenders to Mahogany bay not Georgetown. This is a port area. Plenty of stores there for shopping. Some people didn't like that fact as they had to taxi to town. In Roatan we took the best of tour since we have never been to Roatan. It was an ok tour but too much driving on non scenic routes. Next time I go to the beach. Docked at a port area away from town here too. Nice area In Cozumel, we docked at a port area too. We took a taxi(7 per couple) to the forum shops in town and walked back most of the way. Cozumel was empty. It must have been the port area(lots of people didn't want to pay for taxis) and the fact that only 2 ships were in town. Had lunch at Carlos and Charlies, that was fun. They have a Margaritaville but that was at the end of town and empty. No pool at this Margaritaville, just a restaurant. Grand Turks is much nicer with a wave pool etc. All in all a nice cruise. We had low expectations weather wise and were pleasantly surprised. It was good to get away from the cold in snow in the US. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2009
This was our second cruise on Emerald for the 10-day Eastern Caribbean Voyager (we did December 2007 and January 2009), this last time with the two at-sea days in the beginning so much better!. On prior cruises on Emerald and other ... Read More
This was our second cruise on Emerald for the 10-day Eastern Caribbean Voyager (we did December 2007 and January 2009), this last time with the two at-sea days in the beginning so much better!. On prior cruises on Emerald and other Princess ships, we've done the formals, traditional dining, lots of on-board activities, the shows, etc. Nowadays, wife and I are simply looking for a quiet, peaceful, private, romantic, let-our-hair-down getaway. Great thing about Princess cruise on a ship as large as Emerald is that there is something for everyone. Food is superb, and entertainment first-rate, but won't go into that (see other reviews). We didn't have kids on either cruise, but I was impressed with the deck allotted only to kids, and the special gatherings and activities Princess devotes exclusively for kids. Embarkation Day We arrived at boat about 11:00 AM, and got to our room around 12:30. Not too bad a wait. Got quick lunch at buffet, did quick tour of ship, then up to Sky Deck for waving farewells to all the people in the high hotel balconies lining the mouth of the port. Real fun tradition, and something all first-time cruisers out of Ft. Lauderdale should definitely experience! Got to the Sanctuary early, which my wife adores. It's pricey, $150.00/person ($300.00 total for two) to reserve a lounge chair(s) for the whole cruise (they have half-day rates too if you prefer to not make that commitment). It closes at 5 PM (why?). One deck below is a no-kids area pool and 2 hot tubs adjacent to Lotus Spa. The entire-cruise reservation is well worth the price if you're simply looking for maximum R-&-R and pampering; you don't care that much about ports (or do ½-day excursions-1/2-day Sanctuary); and you're not all that interested in attending other daytime activities on board. Tip: get there ASAP on embarkation day to reserve the best seating. Ship Emerald Princess, one of Princess's three Grande-class ships, truly boggles the human mind-scale of things. When you roll into port on Emerald, you will be the biggest man-made object for 500 mile radius. Even after the second time on Emerald, it still takes days to really find your way around. But what a ship! We really liked the International Cafe, and especially loved the classical music string quartet (the four girls), who played about 5-ish each evening. To get some alone-time, I trekked up to Princess Links mini-golf on Sky Deck. Go early/late, take three balls, and you can practice by yourself. Hole 4 is par 10,000 - don't even bother with it. Unfortunately, the course has really become run-down between our first and second cruises on Emerald. Excursions Antigua: Did Circle Antigua by Sea w/Lunch excursion. (see Woodmnky review - pretty spot-on, so will only give my impressions). Antigua is a dryer, more arid southern Caribbean island. Since we're from West, seeing yet more arid country (scrubby trees, cactus, yucca, thorny plants, etc.) wasn't that welcome, even though the island is otherwise beautiful. Circumnavigation of Antigua pretty much shows you all you might want to see on Antigua for a one-day shot. We really enjoyed this excursion and heartily recommend it for Antigua. The crew was lots of fun good humored party folk and yes, the banter from the host can be a bit bawdy, but they also never stop pouring the rum punch either. So maybe you go with the flow, right? In any event, we had no kids on our voyage. The 20-minutes on the NE Atlantic side really was Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. When the captain says, "Maybe you all ought to get indoors and hold on for dear life" - seriously consider it! But overall, I thought the whole timing of the excursion is what made it most memorable: about an hour or so around the north side sight-seeing, stop at Green Island on east-central side for private 2.5 hour snorkeling, decent lunch (chicken or fish) and swimming, then several more hours S, SW, and W sides for return trip, also touring Nelson's Dockyard and English Harbour (mega-yacht tours). The thin beach at Green Island is not much to write home about, and it had goatsheads of all things! (thorny stickers for you Eastern U.S. types, so wear sandals). But still, very pleasant. Tip: after lunch on return trip, get your sunscreen on, go to the front of catamaran starboard side, hang on to the rail and dangle your legs over the sea, have your drink cup always at the ready, then, let the water lap your feet as you lose yourself in Antigua... Barbados: Stayed on ship (Sanctuary) on this second cruise. On first cruise, went ashore. Kingstown is a big city, and we're after smaller tropical island experiences now. But for Anthony Bourdain-types, you can have an authentic street-eating experience in Bridgetown and/or try the fantastic beach on the south side of town. If the kids in Barbados are at school, you won't get too hammered by beach vendors. St. Lucia: Quite possibly the most beautiful tropical island in the world. Or at least that's what two ladies who had recently cruised w/Princess in Tahiti and Hawaii had told us while swimming with us in Soufriere Bay (BTW, the buoyancy of the water in that bay is phenomenal - floating is effortless, you can't drown in it). On first cruise, I thought scenic beauty of St. Lucia was on a par with Grand Canyon or some other beyond-words-beautiful destination, but come 12/8/2009 wife and I are off to Tahiti on Pacific Princess to make the comparison for ourselves. On first cruise, we met a vendor at Castries port entry showing us pictures of their boat tour to Pitons, Soufriere, Sulphur Springs volcano, the Falls, with great lunch in open air restaurant in Anse La Rey (or was it, Anse Chastenet?). Wish I could remember the name of the tour outfit for you all because that was a great tour of the main tourist sites on the west side of the island, and a real bargain over the comparable Princess excursion. Moreover, at last minute we played poor and haggled with them for an even better price! I think they are a permanent fixture there, so you should find them (or they'll find you). One thing I missed on that first cruise tour was a real exploration of the island's interior, so on this second cruise we took the Best of St. Lucia by Land and Sea excursion. Half-day in bus down coast road, with stops for picture taking (and vendors), a tour of a plantation with lunch (pretty good), same stops as first tour less the Falls, ½-hour or so swimming in bay, then half-day by water back to Castries. We didn't really like this tour. You see the interior, but half-day in crowded bus is not fun, and our tour guide was disinterested to the point of being surly. Plantation stop was very interesting though. Even though scenic, thing that really disappointed me about St. Lucia was the poverty, dirt, garbage. Tip: Save money and enjoy yourself even more by taking the non-Princess boat tour at the port entry. St. Kitts: This is a really lovely island. On first cruise, we took a taxi to beach at South Frigate Bay. What a view! A setting like Diamond Head in Hawaii. You pay a nominal fee for a lounge chair on the beach, unless you buy lunch/drinks at their nearby cabana -which of course, we gladly did. Second cruise we did St. Kitts Rain Forest Walk excursion. This was our "educational" experience, and worth the $$$ if you, like us, divvy up your cruise experience between equal parts education, sight-seeing, beach lounging, shopping, shore dining, etc. After narrated bus ride west, walk starts out from Romney Manor. Very beautiful gardens and a batik demonstration worth seeing at Manor. Our guide, Winston, was wonderful and very knowledgeable about every nuance of the rain forest. St. Kitts has monkeys, but as Winston says: In St. Kitts, if you see a man with a monkey, expect "monkey business" (i.e., it costs to touch). This afternoon tour moves slowly and has plenty of stops for Winston's narratives, but it also has about ¼-mile of a pretty steep climb. We're in reasonably good shape, but if you have some health or physical fitness issues you might consider avoiding this tour. The tour advertises fruit drinks and light lunch at end, but they also pulled out some rum, which was a fun surprise. I'd eat a hearty lunch on boat beforehand because it can seem like a long hot day. Also, we got to St. Kitts on a Sunday, when everything was closed down. On first cruise, a weekday, we really enjoyed the town square activities in downtown Basseterre from the veranda at Ballahoos. St. Thomas: Did the Champagne Catamaran Sailaway to St. John excursion. Half-day, morning cruise, drive out to east end of the island (interesting in itself), then on catamaran operated by expatriate Americans. The captain and crew were fun! And willing to share with you their Margaritaville experience. Do I hear, "House Hunters International, Baby?" This was our best excursion for snorkeling (plentiful colorful fish, turtles, lobsters, etc.), out on a limestone reef off St. John, and it's a very scenic cruise through the straits going out (port) and coming back (starboard). They motor out to give you as much time as possible snorkeling and swimming, then set sail (slower) on return trip, all the while pouring champagne. Hmmm...got a little "wavy" on the return trip (LoL). Only down-side: lunch was chips, crackers, and cheese, like something off the shelf from Wal-Mart. Eat a hearty breakfast. Otherwise, definitely recommend this excursion for snorkeling and sailing. And then you still have the afternoon for a taxi ride to downtown Charlotte Amalie for shopping save your shopping for St. Thomas or sleeping it off on the boat. Princess Cays: Ahhh....if only the weather in the Bahamas can hold long enough! Always a crap-shoot for sun versus rain at Princess Cays. And water is much colder there too (like public swimming pool). BUT, if it's gets sunny and warm hopefully burning off by mid-morning, then definitely make Princess Cays your primary beach day experience sunning, swimming, snorkeling, band music, barbecue, beach-combing, volleyball, ping-pong, water sports, excellent kids playground, cabana socializing, no harassment from vendors - just the fun stuff. Princess goes to the total max entertaining, feeding, and pampering you on Princess Cays. Makes for the perfect last day of the cruise. Which, of course, is always the ultimate problem with a cruise vacation - it ends too soon!!! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2009
Why not cruise on Princess? Here's why not. Cruised January 10th-17th on the Emerald Princess from Fort Lauderdale. It was our 6th cruise (1 Holland America, 4 Celebrity). Overall, disappointed in Princess Cruises. Why? Major ... Read More
Why not cruise on Princess? Here's why not. Cruised January 10th-17th on the Emerald Princess from Fort Lauderdale. It was our 6th cruise (1 Holland America, 4 Celebrity). Overall, disappointed in Princess Cruises. Why? Major irritants: 1. Early morning announcements over the ship's public address system. We are starting in EST, we're used to CST. After day one, the ship is an hour east of EST. So, with the ship's time being 8am (or once, 7:30am), body time 6am, we don't want to hear announcements that woke us up all but one morning way too early. We couldn't sleep in due to these announcements, and most of the information was useless: docking times are printed in the Daily Patter and posted at all gangways. Recreational activities are also published and we don't need to be awakened to be reminded. Finally, there's a ton of marketing going on ("don't forget the art auction/junk sale on Deck Five") that is tiresome, tacky, and annoying. Cruise director Tim Donovan was more like a drill sergeant, bellowing announcements ("Hope you had a cracking good day at sea; don't forget to buy stuff on board in the blah-blah-blah") and being intrusive many times a day. 2. Limited, slow room service: unlike Celebrity, there's no TV-screen menu and ordering. In the mornings or other times (after embarkation time at a port, for example) the hold time for a call to room service is measured in minutes (we usually put the phone on speaker to wait), sometimes ten or more minutes. The items are very limited; no appetizers or light snacks and worst—no alcoholic beverage service (just bottles, not drinks). 3. Plain, small cabins. Austere—some bare walls; too small for a dresser or any furniture save one small seat and a desk chair. 4. Cramped, miniature bathroom. Barely RV-sized shower; tiny vanity. 5. Room steward attention spotty. Not like Celebrity, where they're constantly slipping in to tidy up; no such thing as the Carnival "folded towel animals." 6. Recurring and unavoidable mob scenes: at ports (3,336 passengers on board), at dinner (huge mob crammed into a small waiting area near the Boticelli Dining Room) and all buffets; disembarking was a mob scene requiring much waiting. 7. No real sailaway observance. In Port Everglades, they tried, but it was too cold. In St. Maartin, tried again, but they decided to wait for a couple who'd missed the boat in Port Everglades, so the band finished its set and everyone just walked away; departed a couple hours late. 8. Dull island night: should be a big, fun and festive island party in the tropics. Drill Sergeant/Cruise Director Tim Donovan starts it out with funeral dirge music ("Claptop's "You Look Wonderful Tonight" and one other tired slow song), then basically browbeats people to imitate his linebacker blitzing dance style; we left after 20 minutes of his pained, forced "fun." 9. Constant hawking of sales of "art," junk, salon services, pay-dining, jewlry, you name it. 10. Loud, forced "fun" on the main pool deck—constantly some cruise staff exhorting passengers on the P.A.; movie always blasting on the second pool; barely room on the quiet, yet smoky aft pool deck. 11. No smoking control on the pool decks. Just have to bear the stink, not like Celebrity (smoking side, non-smoking side). 12. Blah buffets: breakfast, lunch; sameness, and the chaotic layout (islands of food items rather than a buffet line) made for constant traffic jam. Also, there are 5 buffet areas, but they open and close sporadically—finding the one that's open is a pain. 13. No dress code enforcement in traditional dining room (we did Botticelli 8:15 ever day): jeans, polo shirts on formal nights. 14. No midnight buffet. 15. Less than optimum location on St. Thomas (NOT near Frenchman's Reef; crammed into a tiny quay on the opposite side of Charlotte-Amalie. 16. Early departure from St. Thomas (3:30pm). Late arrival (1:00pm) in Grand Turk. 17. Disembarkation: deliberately assign you an early room-vacancy time and waiting spot. We were required to be at our "disembarkation spot" (in our case, the smoke-stenched casino) at 7:50. Waited there till almost nine with a restless crowd, nowhere near enough seats, then finally had to drag our bags down the grand stairway (what a clumsy, bad idea) to disembark. Clearly, Princess realizes they can't disembark you when the say, but they want to prepare for the next set of passengers. Perhaps they need to sail later (6pm rather than 4pm) because they really don't have enough time to turn the ship around without making the disembarking passengers simply wait in holding areas. Poor logistical planning, lack of consideration for those disembarking. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2009
My husband and I have been on 11 and 13 cruises respectively, and of this number, two and three have been on Princess. We were traveling with our dear friends, leaving many feet of snow in our hometown of Spokane, Washington. The four of ... Read More
My husband and I have been on 11 and 13 cruises respectively, and of this number, two and three have been on Princess. We were traveling with our dear friends, leaving many feet of snow in our hometown of Spokane, Washington. The four of us range in age from late 40's to early 50's. Hotel: We stayed in Comfort Inn Airport/Cruise Port South and were happy with our stay. The free airport pickup and cruise port drop off went smoothly. There was a massive amount of people going on cruises so we were pleased it went so well. Embarkation: We took the 12:30 shuttle to the Emerald Princess and encountered a huge line to get on the ship. It moved so quickly, however, that we probably were on the ship in 30 minutes or less. Once through the security you went to the line that corresponded to the deck your room was on. I think it was so quick that our credit card did not quite register at this point and a couple days into the cruise we got a note requesting us to re-register it again. Room E305: We headed to our room to drop off our carry on luggage. This is an obstructed view, but we could see over the lifeboat, which was just to the right of the window, and to the left were cables and what not. We were very happy with it. We were not happy to find out that the deck 7 door to outside was directly under us and it slammed at all hours. Also, this room is directly across from the service area elevators where they bring in the luggage and room servicing carts. There was a lot of noise to say the least, and I was glad I had earplugs. There was a lot of motion and creaking in this room also. Dennis was our room steward and always did a superb job. Horizon Court and Caribbean Cafe: We enjoyed a buffet lunch the first day and though crowded found a seat in the Caribbean Cafe area. The food was just okay, but the cookies on this ship are to die for. I had my share, and I am sure someone else's share too. We ate here for breakfast a few times and some snacks here and there and found it to be fine. Sanitizers were always offered, and although I heard later in the cruise we had some Noro scare, I did not notice that they changed much. I truly appreciate their efforts to keep the germs at bay. Muster Drill and Sail away: Our muster station was the casino, and it was all done very quickly and efficiently. I usually hate this part of the cruise but it was the least irritating I have experienced. We had an informal get together with our Roll Call members at the Terrace Pool immediately after, and we enjoyed meeting those I had chatted with online. We all watched as the Emerald Princess started on our wonderful 10-day journey. Princess did arrange a room (Adagio) for us to meet again a couple days later, but they do not do any thing else special for CC members. The Ship: This is a beautiful ship, and we had fun exploring it. I loved the piazza and especially the International Cafe, which had the most amazing food items. I miss the Shrimp Salad immensely. If I had not read these boards, I would have thought it a place you had to purchase everything, but most items were free. It took till nearly the end of the cruise to really know my way around, and even then, I am not so sure. That is the fun of it though, it seemed like something new was always around the corner. Entertainment: I loved the production shows, and am so amazed at the talent of these young people to memorize all the songs and dance moves for four production numbers. The sets and costumes were amazing. How they can do all this in the space they have is mind-boggling. We especially enjoyed the band Exotique. We also enjoyed the comedians Kevin Jordan and Carey Long. The magician, Jeff Peterson, was also a comedian, and we liked him too. Sadly, we were not able to get to all the things we wanted, as there is only so much time and energy in a day. Dining: We had any time dining and we chose to make a standing reservation in the Michelangelo with Aureial and Fernando. They were superb and our food was always served quickly and efficiently. They allowed us to tweak our time each day between 5:30 to 6:30 and still have these servers and table 228. I am not sure her job title, but the young lady at the door to greet you Marillia(SP) was such a joy to see every day she made it always extra special. She is from Brazil and had the sweetest personality we encountered on the ship. I don't know how her mother can ever part with her for these cruises. The food we ordered was always wonderful. You would have to be very picky not to enjoy something off the menu. It varied enough to please all in my opinion. I especially loved the cheese and bread plate, which I always ordered as an appetizer. The love boat dream found its way to our table most nights too. It does appease the chocolate lover in me. The escargot on the last formal night, though not on the menu, was also delicious. All you had to do was ask and they tried to accommodate you. Room Service: We only tried this once for breakfast. Warning: I wrote in hot chocolate, which is free in the dining room, and was charged $1.95. Did not realize this so just wanted to let others know. Antigua-Jan. 22: Up to a beautiful sunny day. We had booked Eli's Echo Tour privately and got off a little early to look around. People wanting us to use them for a tour bombarded us. They were all very nice and no thank you was adequate. There were all kinds of shops to explore and then we met our tour. We went out on a boat with Tony and Serge and a couple others, but I can't remember their names. They were all really good to us, and we enjoyed the beautiful blue water and seeing the island from the water. We pulled in to Great Bird Island and enjoyed a hike to the top. These were spectacular views. We swam a little and then ate a wonderful BBQ chicken lunch. My husband said it was the best! Then off to Hell's Gate Island and we had a rugged climb over sheer rocks, but it was exciting and amazing. This was one of our favorite things. Then off to snorkel and it was a little cloudy but fun and quite a few fish. We enjoyed our day with the crew and their rum punch had quite a kick. YUM!!! Barbados: The Emerald Princess docked in Barbados Jan. 23. The ship docks in quite an industrial area and you are picked up at the ship by buses and taken over to the port terminal. This is where it got quite ugly. They had about 6 or 7 buses to take around 3000 passengers over which would have been walk able but you were not allowed to do so. We went to get off and people were backed up the stairwell and held till each bus would fill and move on. It was awful and we were running to catch Glory Tours as we got off later than expected. We were possibly 15 minutes late but so were the others that were going on this tour. As you left the terminal gate you are bombarded with tour vendors wanting to take you on tours. I asked for Glory Tours and a man said they left but then I hear a shout and a man holding a Glory Tours sign was there. He said other vendors would try to take their tours if they can by saying this. Jamal(SP) guided us to a bus. I told him we were on the Best of Barbados and the others were on a different tour. He said he would take us with the others. We went very quickly to the Harrison Caves. Jamal drove very well on these curvy roads, but very fast. At the caves Sarah, the head of Glory Tours, talked to us about not being able to do our tour as promised as she had to take an Expedia group that day. We were to go with Jamal and have the Wild Life Reserve cut out. I was disappointed, but stuff happens,and we understood. The good parts now: The Harrison Caves were so fantastic. We live by the Lewis and Clark Caverns and we thought nothing could compare to them but we were wrong. This was amazing. We were 160 feet under in caves with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites with the ceiling being 150 feet above us. Water ran in little streams all around it. WOW it was great. We rode in a tram and were able to get out for great pictures. Amazing excursion. Jamal walked us behind the caves outside to a lush tropical area and we were able to see the monkey I so wanted to see at the Wildlife Reserve. I wish we could have walked around this area. It looked like it had paths and tails. So gorgeous. We were off for an island site seeing tour of beautiful countrysides and ocean views. Then to a cozy lunch at a small eatery seeming in the middle of nowhere. We had flying fish sandwiches and a drink. We were able to change to our swimming suits here. Jamal gave a wonderful narrative and we were with only 6 other people so it was a lot of fun. Then we went to a lovely beach and loaded in a glass bottom boat. Jamal went too and drove the boat also so we knew he was good friends with the boat driver. We only went a short distance to an area where several other excursions were. There was no reef just a sandy bottom but we saw 3 turtles total and that was really amazing. They are so regal. They feed the fish so this attracts them. I was amazed at the puffer fish. I have never seen so many at one time. We were a little concerned with safety as other boats come and go and they are not as safety conscience as I would have liked with starting their motors very close to people. We brought our own snorkel gear but they do have masks and snorkels on board. No fins. Off then a short distance to a sunken ship and there was a massive amount of fish here. You literally could not see through them there was so many. We sampled a little rum punch and then back to the beach where there were bathroom facilities. We loaded in the van and back to the port. Jamal was quite entertaining and sang to us often. He was a great guide. I loved Barbados and our tour was wonderful. St. Lucia: We booked the Island Tour with Serenity Tours for today. We met them and had to wait a short while as our guide for the day, Ernie, had to pick up a family at a hotel before us. They were really nice to hang out with, and with them that made 6 of us on this tour. Of all the places we went this was the most beautiful. The flowers and plants were amazing. We wound around curvy roads out of Castries and saw amazing sites. Banana plantations and other little towns along the way. We stopped at a little house that was a little bakery of some of the best bread I have ever tasted. Ernie got us this to taste and also earlier a fresh banana. We went to a beautiful waterfall at Toraille Fall and Botanical Gardens and then wound our way to Souffrie where we saw an amazing view of the Pitons and went up to the Drive in Volcano. We were amazed at the boiling, steaming, water covering this crater area. It smelled of sulfur and it rained on us here, which happens because of the volcano. A lunch stop was made at a restaurant and we had the Creole Feast, which was very good. We had an incredible view of the Pitons during lunch. To our dismay, in the end, we headed straight back to the ship. I asked about the snorkeling part that was to be included in our tour, and they realized this was a miscommunication on their part. John the owner, who is just so wonderful, apologized profusely and insisted on refunding us one of our ticket prices. I was sad to miss this as it is suppose to be wonderful snorkeling, but there was not time at that point. Even though this happened, I would HIGHLY recommend Serenity Tours. They were very professional and at all times asked if we were having a good time and the answer was always YES!!! Customer service is very important to them, and I was impressed over the refund even though we argued that their tour had been well worth the money even without the snorkeling. St. Kitts: Our tour was with Thenford Grey. We were to meet at 10:00 but our ship got there a little early and we saw him a little after 9:00. He was taking a tour at 9:00 and had a no show so he let us take it earlier than we were scheduled. This was so wonderful as it was Thenford Grey himself and not one of his employees. He was just such a gracious man and easy to understand as he had a headphone mic that projected over the entire bus type van. It was 5 star driving in that highly air-conditioned, big windowed vehicle. We toured through Basseterre and then on up to Romney Manor-Carbelle Batik and saw the lush gardens that surround the place they sell Batik clothing. We saw a great deal of animals running around on this tour including cows, goats, pigs and monkeys. They seem to randomly cross the road where ever and when ever. Next was Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park. It was so many structures, and we are sure it went far below the ground in tunnels too. We enjoyed the views and imagining what must have happened in the 1700's. We had plenty of time to explore all over the area. We then headed to the other side of Basseterre, which is drier, and there are plenty of plans to develop huge housing and resort areas here. We went to Cockleshell Beach and were able to eat and swim and snorkel. My husband said the snorkeling was not great but the water is beautiful and we enjoyed a walk along the beach. Back to the ship and said goodbye. appreciating the wonderful day that Thenford gave us. St. Thomas: We had a little shopping time before our St. John Eco Hike tour booked through Princess. We took a very rough ride on a ferry type boat over to St. John. Several tours were on this vessel and then we split up once on St. John. We met up with our guide Scott. The hike was nice and informative, but I felt for $84 we should possibly have had water supplied and a snack. Honeymoon Beach was beautiful, which is where the hike led to, and my husband found a little area where snorkeling was pretty good. We had an hour at the beach and then walked a bit more to a resort area and caught a cab back to the ferry for a calmer ride back. The tour stated we would have a botanical tour at the resort but this did not happen. We were not suppose to even go into the resort, but I had to use the facilities and was allowed to do so. We had fun, but of all the tours this was our least favorite. I do not feel like the description on this tour that Princess lists is very accurate. Princess Cays I love this stop. We were possibly the second or third tender over and we walked down to the snorkel area and got in the water as quickly as we could. It was amazing visibility and the best snorkeling site we had on this cruise. The water is a little chilly here, but not that bad. We enjoyed the beach and the sun, and lunch was wonderful. We walked along the rocky beach area and saw many of the escargot we had had the night before. Such a peaceful day and though rain greeted us as we sat our belongings down upon arrival, the sun came out and it was HOT HOT HOT! We loved it. Debarkation: We were sad to pack our bags and leave, but this was a very organized debarkation. We ate up in the Horizon Court and then took our carryons to our designated wait area in the Explorers Lounge. I'm sure it was not more than 15 minutes and our group was allowed to proceed off the ship. Found our luggage easily and through customs with no problem and into a cab in minutes. I think we were at the airport by 9 or 9:30. Well-done Princess!! I can't wait to go again, and we would love to do this itinerary again as one time just won't be enough for us. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2009
My husband and I were enjoying our second cruise, a babymoon actually on the Ruby Princess. It was by far the most beautifully decorated ship I have been on and this compares to Holland America, Royal Caribbean and Carnival ships. We had ... Read More
My husband and I were enjoying our second cruise, a babymoon actually on the Ruby Princess. It was by far the most beautifully decorated ship I have been on and this compares to Holland America, Royal Caribbean and Carnival ships. We had previously taken a honeymoon cruise on the Royal Caribbean to Eastern Caribbean and enjoyed our experience tremendously. We were expecting more "Love" from the brand new Ruby "Love Boat" that Princess was famous for. First of all, we booked a mini suite category. We felt that this line, in comparison to other cruises, seemed to charge for all the amenities we typically receive for free on other ships. We had to pay for ice cream at the pool, appetizers before dinner in the lobby, pizza delivery from room service and $12 for a cheese board/fruit platter from room service! The excursions were overpriced compared to other cruise lines. "Anytime dining" is not a good idea if you want to eat anytime other than 6pm or 8pm. When we would show up at 7pm, we received a pager and then had to wait for a table for 15-40 minutes. You can call ahead in the morning to make a reservation, but we found out they only take about 20% of the restaurant as a reservation and only before 4pm. If you make a reservation, you get a table right away. You will have a different waiter staff each night, which made it difficult to receive any special attention or friendly "get to know" atmosphere we enjoy on other ships. Next time we would do the late seating. I highly recommend the specialty Italian restaurant. It is worth the $20 supplement. The food in the dining room for dinner was just OK. Not as good as Royal or Holland. Menu is a little boring and tasteless. Our room was beautiful, although smaller than the mini suite on Royal Caribbean. Room service menu was not very good and we felt that suite passengers should be offered a different menu to choose from, other than free sandwiches. The room attendant was friendly and probably the best cruise staff we met on board as far as attention and helpfulness. Our room was decorated nicely outside for our anniversary and my birthday. We also enjoyed receiving special cards to give to the head waiter at the restaurant to notify that it was a special occasion. They brought us a special dessert each time we notified. Tendering on two ports (Princess Cay and Grand Cayman) was not a great experience at all. We had long lines to wait in on the return to ship from port and watched as other cruise lines were handing out water and snacks to their passengers. Also, we felt that we had to get on the ship much earlier in each port than necessary. We would have enjoyed staying longer in each port, rather than on board by 4pm. The activities on board were not much to be desired. We were comparing to all the fun activities on the Royal Caribbean, with rock climbing and ice skating. The Ruby should have more focus on the education programs and add another cooking demonstration, which was the best demo I have seen on any ship. I highly recommend it and the cookbook for purchase is reasonable $28 and you can have it personally signed by the Exec. Chef. The shows at night were fair. The second evening show, Broadway Review, was the best. All the others we were not that impressed. They had a guest singer from Vegas that was excellent, but he is not normally on the ship. Compared to Royal, it was a 4 and Royal entertainment an 8 out of 10. So, in conclusion, bring back the LOVE. Please stop charging for ice cream! Where was someone like Issac at the pool? The pool drink attendants need to smile and enjoy their job. What is better than serving drinks under the sun! Make it a more personal experience for the guests, especially if you are paying suite pricing. Ruby needs to hire a different Cruise Director. By the end of the trip, we had to turn her off our TV screen. Best things on board: Movies Under the Stars (need less sports and more movies) Cooking Demonstration and Ship Kitchen Tour Decoration of the ship, live musicians playing in the lobby upon check in. Ports of call were excellent, but you'll need to book excursions. Least favorite things: Lots of little charges everywhere. Cost of fruit drinks without alcohol. Entertainment and getting turned away because all the seats were filled! Bingo prices. Art Auction not as great as Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2009
This was my 12th cruise overall, and 6th on Princess. Six cruises makes you an "Elite" member of the Captain's circle. The only important upgrade is $100 worth of free internet, which we greatly appreciated. We flew to ... Read More
This was my 12th cruise overall, and 6th on Princess. Six cruises makes you an "Elite" member of the Captain's circle. The only important upgrade is $100 worth of free internet, which we greatly appreciated. We flew to Santiago direct from Toronto and arrived one day early, staying at the Diego del Almagro hotel, 1 km from the airport, with free shuttle service. A very good choice if you just want to rest up from the overnight flight. Next morning we got the shuttle back to the airport at 9 am. There were Princess people everywhere, and our bags were immediately put on a big truck headed for the ship. We boarded a coach and set out for the 2 hour drive to Valparaiso shortly thereafter. Arriving in the port around 11:30, we were taken to a very nice Sheraton hotel, where there was a registration desk set up in a ballroom, with refreshments available. Very pleasant way to check in for the ship. We had about a half hour to walk along the waterfront and then back on the coach to the pier. We had to line up in a cargo shed to get our key card and then on a shuttle through a mountain of containers to the ship. We boarded and were in our cabin at 1:10. Very efficient overall. The ship was sparkling. She had recently been through a dry dock and almost everything looked fresh, especially the paint on the exterior. The Atrium has been renovated to resemble that of the newest ships. The only sign of neglect we noticed was the fabric on the chairs in the Dining Room (we ate in the Portofino almost all of the time). There were stains on many of the chairs which was a bit of a turnoff as you sat down to dinner. We were midship on Caribe deck and delighted with our cabin and our room steward. We enjoy the much larger balconies to be found on Caribe. We eat almost all of our meals in the Dining Room, breakfast and lunch included. It is far more relaxing, better tasting food and controlled portions than if you eat a lot in the buffet. On the second night of the cruise, we discovered Table 126 and its other Table for 2 neighbors in the Portofino dining room. We had a tremendous waiter, Luis from Portugal (Hi Luis!), assisted by Mihai, who was on the last cruise of his contract but didn't act like it. They were extremely friendly and helpful and really made the cruise for us. We have been fortunate to have had several great waiters on Princess over the past few years (Daniel on Golden, Ryan on Island come immediately to mind). We like Anytime dining but also like to have the same waiter each night, once we find a good one, and since we like to eat a little later than the first sitting of Fixed, and want a Table for 2, Anytime works for us. I wish you could actually make a standing reservation for a specific table at a specific time, but they wouldn't do it for us this time. So we just made sure we arrived in time to get one of Luis's tables each night. Overall, the food was very good, I thought. Taste seems to have improved on Princess in the past couple of years. We had a few disappointments, but not many. The disappointing thing is that they seem to have cut way back on quality and quantity of beef entrees. I never had any really good beef on the cruise, and Prime Rib was never even offered. We ate our Anniversary Meal in the Crown Grill, and it was a major disappointment. I will not spend the extra money to go there again. The Filet I ordered was tasteless and the service was poor. Overall the food is not quite as good as on Holland America and upscale cruise lines, but it isn't that far off. Entertainment - The Star had a veteran Cruise Director - Richard Joseph, making his first trip on the Star, and Deputy Julie James. We have cruised with both of them before and they are both very good at their jobs. The rest of the Cruise staff were mediocre, as we noticed on our last cruise on the Island. The Production shows were predictably good (we had seen two of them on other cruises, but enjoyed them nonetheless) and the solo entertainers brought on board were generally very good. There was a good variety of musicians playing at various venues on the ship. One thing we did notice, is that the "prizes" offered for winning various passenger participation events have been cheapened considerably. We received a rose and 4 chocolates for winning one event - winning the same event last year netted us a bottle of bubbly and $300 Spa certificate. Itinerary - I have added comments about the various ports elsewhere in this review. Overall, I would say the itinerary is disappointing from Valparaiso until you get to the Amalia glacier. After that, it is great. It is a very special experience to round Cape Horn. We enjoyed cruising the Chilean fjiords and loved Stanley and Montevideo. Note, if you are cruising in the same direction as us, starting in the Pacific and ending in the Atlantic, you want to be on the Port side of the ship for the best views. Or Starboard if going the other way. Disembarkation - This was not a highlight of the experience, once leaving the ship. Utter chaos on the gangway and in the terminal. We were supposed to be getting on a coach to begin our land tour, and even the usually helpful Shorex guy had no idea where we were supposed to go. We stood in a cramped area for what seemed like a very long time, getting bumped and jostled, before someone finally came along and directed us to the coach. Land tour - We began our 6 day land tour, with 2 days each in Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls and Rio de Janeiro. It was the best part of the trip for sure. We had just an outstanding Tour Director - Neidle Lee of SAT Tours. I have done a lot of land tours, especially with Globus (for whom she also works) and have never met her equal. It was a most pleasant way to end the trip. Overall, this cruisetour exceeded my expectations. I was not happy to learn after final payment had been made for the cruise, about all the extra charges, such as the $132 US pp entry fee for the privilege of landing at Santiago airport. It was bureaucracy at its finest, as the agents were rejecting even slightly used US currency. Be sure to bring crisp new bills! And then there was the fiasco of having to send our Passports to the Brazilian embassy for Visas - which cost over $250 total and meant we were without passports for over a month. The ridiculous excess baggage fees flying to Iguazu Falls, and finally the departure tax to leave Brazil, which I was delighted to discover had already been paid when I purchased my air ticket. But while those annoyances still lead me to feel I will not be back this way any time soon, I still enjoyed the trip immensely and come home with many good memories. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2009
We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale the night before the cruise and took a $20 cab ride to The Sheraton Yankee Clipper Hotel. It was unusually cold in southern Florida so walking the beach as planned was not possible. The restaurant in the hotel ... Read More
We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale the night before the cruise and took a $20 cab ride to The Sheraton Yankee Clipper Hotel. It was unusually cold in southern Florida so walking the beach as planned was not possible. The restaurant in the hotel was very pricey...$13 for a burger...so we ate across the street at a fun little place across the street at the Days Inn. The room was comfortable and after a good night's sleep we were ready to start our adventure. We checked out just before 11am and got a cab ($12) right away to the dock, not far from our hotel. We were given a number and directed to sit in a certain area that corresponded to our number. By 11:45 our group was called and in just a few minutes we were on out way to the gangway. We avoided the long line for photographer and skipped ahead to get on the ship quicker. We were directed into an elevator and told our room was ready! We were shocked that we could see our room immediately...fastest, easiest embarkation ever! This is the first time we booked an inside cabin and I was nervous that it would be itty bitty. I was pleasantly surprised at the size... very roomy and well laid out. We had more than enough room for all our things (we pack light). On the downside the bed was lumpy and hard but we requested an egg crate topper right away and that helped. The linens were great and the feather pillows I requested were also comfy. The shower was small and did not have a detachable shower head but other than those complaints the room was quite nice. The ship was beautiful and sparking clean. The service was awesome. Our room steward Somnuek was wonderful granting all our requests immediately. We left notes for anything we needed and like magic it was there! Four fresh water pools, two in the center are rather large with hot tubs. The one with the movie screen over it (MUTS) is heated which was nice the first and last days which were cool. The superbowl played the first night but getting a seat was tough and the winds made it uncomfortable so we peeked in at it now and then. We missed the funny commercials because it was a satellite feed. We actually didn't make use of Movies Under the Stars much as we had seen most of the movies that were offered. We usually enjoy the big production shows on ships but were sorely disappointed in the shows on the Crown. The crowd on this ship was older and arrived in the theater very early to claim their seats. We had to go at least 30 min. early just to get a seat. We left early for each show out of boredom. The Motown show was lame, the Destination Anywhere show started off ok but then got weird...we couldn't follow the logic and left. Kimika (comedy/music act) was just ok. The entertainment on the piazza was nice. The do-wop group was fun and the violinist in the group Quadri was awesome! Not the usual Titanic Quartet you expect! The Karaoke was not very exciting like on other ships. The Princess Popstar search wasn't terribly exciting either even though there were some talented people on board. Carnival and Holland do a much better job with these things. The enrichment programs were mostly computer classes which didn't interest us at all. I attended a box making class which was nice. The pool games were funny but the trivia was not very exciting. The cruise director and staff were not very engaging. The entertainment largely disappointed. The video poker machines in the casino were tight and the smokers made it uncomfortable so we didn't gamble much. The food was good overall. We chose anytime dining and always arrived before 6:15 to be sure to get a seat. The dining rooms are hot and noisy and the service is slow. We had good table mates for the most part so we chatted while we waited. The beef dishes were tasteless and tough but we enjoyed the seafood dishes a lot. The lobster served at the second formal night was the best we have had on a ship. The dinner buffet was hit and miss. It has a theme each night and is rather small for a buffet. the breakfast and lunch buffets were better, bigger with more selections. The salad bar and homemade breads were great. The homemade icecream in he closed section of the buffet is offered for free from 3:30-4:30. The other ice cream is $1.5 in a large waffle cone. We tried the soft serve and found it to be more like ice milk. The pizza is good but we have great pizza in NY so we are picky. It was for a snack. We liked the chicken and shrimp salads and the gelato from the international cafe near the piazza(small charge for the gelato). Our first port was Princess Cay. The water was too cold for me but DH tried to snorkel...a few fish but too rough and cold to stay too long. We walked around, bought a small souvenir form a local vendor then returned to the ship. Tenders go back and forth constantly so there was no wait. St Maartin was warmer and sunny. We rented a car from Budget at the pier. We prefer to drive ourselves rather than pay for expensive shore trips. The roads were not good and too narrow to pull over to take aphoto or read the map. It was a harrowing experience to drive there. We finally made it to Orient beach on the French side and DH was surprised to find it was a nude beach! Apparently he didn't believe me when I told him about that when planning the trip! The water and sand are gorgeous! We walked the beach up and down then hopped back in the to tour the island. It is sort of desert like and not much to see. the lookout on the otherside has great views but no parking so we moved on. We had to park quite a distance form famous Front Street and walk 10 minutes to shop. We bought some homemade rum in painted bottles from the duty free and went back to the ship a bit early as it got really hot. We never found the snorkel spots I researched but the water was too rough anyway. I wouldn't rent a car again..expensive and rough driving. We rented a car in St. Thomas as well. Better roads but driving on the opposite side was weird. We stopped at Sapphire Beach...gorgeous water and good snorkeling. The weather was great and water was . I brought dog biscuits to feed the fish and an underwater case for my digital camera. It was amazing to see the fish swarming around eating right out of our hands! We got some great pics of fish. We moved onto Coki beach next for more good shore snorkeling. DH actually saw an octopus! The parking area is scary there and limited too. I heard you can park next door at coral work and walk down the stairs to the beach. We couldn't get a parking spot to shop downtown...what a mess that is! We found a store to buy diet coke at took the car back early. We bought some rum at the duty free on Crown Bay (port) and pored it into empty coke bottles to get it back on the ship. We ordered sliced limes from room service and enjoyed cocktails when we got back to our room. Our last port Grand Turk was cancelled due to rough sea conditions. There is bo bay so I guess this happens whenever the sea is rough. Our port charges were refunded. The seas were so rough the pools were closed as the water was sloshing right out of them! We chose to walk off with our luggage which you could do if you have no more than 2 bags each. Getting an elevator was impossible...we carried our luggage down 5 floors! I would go earlier next time to avoid the problem with the busy elevators (which are slow anyway!). We got off by 7:30 and got a cab right away. We were at the airport and checked in by 8:30 for a 11 am flight back to snow! Overall the cruise was nice and we will probably try another Princess ship again. We prefer Holland to Princess for food and entertainment. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2009
I am overcome by jet-lag, and am drinking a pina colada made with blackstrap rum, but I shall do my best to convey how fabulous our trip on the Crown Princess truly was. An idea, first, of our group. My sister (who is an experienced ... Read More
I am overcome by jet-lag, and am drinking a pina colada made with blackstrap rum, but I shall do my best to convey how fabulous our trip on the Crown Princess truly was. An idea, first, of our group. My sister (who is an experienced cruiser, and who had handled much of the arranging of this huge undertaking) and her friend from work, my aunt and uncle (in their late 60's or so, and who are quite experienced cruisers though this was their first time on Princess), my brother and sister-in-law (with their two sons ages 3 1/2 and 5, none of whom had ever cruised before), my mom and step-dad (who had never cruised before), and my boyfriend and I (who were also cruise noobs). Also, please note that I tend to be a raging misanthrope, and the idea of being trapped at sea with 3200 other people was striking a touch of terror into my blackened little heart. We arrived in Fort Lauderdale on March 1st, most of us, and since it was rather late at night, went directly (via complimentary shuttle) to the Hyatt Place North. This completely non-smoking property had incredibly comfortable beds, huge TVs, free wi-fi, and a lovely free breakfast in the morning. They also had a complimentary shuttle to Port Everglades, and got the 10 of us there in plenty of time to meet up with the last two of our party before embarkation. Once meeting up and giving our bags over to the porters, we hopped into the line. We joined the line at 12:01pm and were in our rooms by 12:30, even allowing for time to have our embarkation photo taken. It would have been even faster if there hadn't been quite such a large group of us (and Mom in a wheelchair for this bit due to a serious car accident a little over a year ago). Quite organized and quick embarkation, from what we could tell. We were all up on Baja deck with balcony rooms. Three of them were next to each-other, and they all opened up the partitions to have one giant balcony. The rooms had plenty of space, loads of storage, and the balconies were completely covered, which meant we didn't have to worry about any detritus falling from party-goers on upper decks. Some people complain about the showers being too small, but despite neither my BF nor I being skinny midgets, we had absolutely zero problems with either the size of the shower or being attacked by the shower curtain (even when showering with the bathroom door open). Half of us had the wonderful Rosa (from Mexico) as our Cabin Stewardess, and the other half had Edmundo (from the Philippines) as their Cabin Steward. I think we were all equally happy. Edmundo got the room with the little ones, and made them various towel animals during the cruise, including a monkey hanging from on of the hangers that had clips! Rosa was fabulous for us, and made sure that we wanted for nothing. We even left love notes with Post-Its on the mirror for her, and she responded in kind. She and Edmundo were always smiling and laughing, despite the incredibly long hours they work (on the last night, Rosa told us that she was done working at 10pm and back on at 5am the next morning!). We (my BF and I) found a certificate from my sister for a Balcony Champagne Breakfast waiting for us in our mailbox when we arrived to the room, which was an awesome surprise. We went in, oohed and aahed, did a little nesting, and then went down to the Piazza to get our Coffee Card, Soda Sticker, and a couple of raffle tickets. We then went up to Lotus Spa to take the tour of the spa and fitness center, and then it was back to the room to get a little snack from room service (so quick, even on Embarkation Day!) before Muster Drill (ours was in Princess Theater). Zipped through through that, and then headed to the aft open decks for sailaway. It's amazing to see how many residents of that area come out of their homes or on to their balconies to see us off. Some even had signs and banners up, and all were waving away like mad. Met a couple of people from here on deck as well, and then met up with most of the family in the Horizon Court for a nibble at the seafood buffet. When we got back to our cabin, our luggage had arrived and been brought in, so a bit more nesting was done. Because there were so many of us, with different ages, experiences, and goals for the vacation, we were able to experience a whole lot of different things. The only time we all sat down together for dinner was one night in the Crown Grill, and let me tell you, it was TOTALLY worth every single cent you pay ($25pp). They were accommodating with the young boys, bringing spaghetti for them (and bringing it early in the meal so that they wouldn't get totally bored) instead of making them choose something off of the rather adult normal menu. The service was impeccable, the food was astonishingly good, and the desserts...well, I'll just tell you that you should get the dessert sampler AND the three berry cobbler. You really don't want to miss a thing. (And if anyone can find a way to get me one of those adorable little crocks that the sampler size of Chocolate Obsession comes in, I'd be eternally grateful. I was quite restrained in not just sticking it in my purse.) My boyfriend and I were mostly nonplussed at our few Dining Room meals, as the service wasn't quite as nice as we would have liked (nor as nice as we saw other people getting). One evening, the hostess practically pelted our napkins into our laps. Guess she was having a bad day. Still, we liked the option of Anytime Dining, and none of the others had any complaints that we heard. Room service was always prompt and happy to fulfill any special requests we had. The buffets were great as well. I didn't find them to be chaotic, as some people here have said, and the food was really well done. The specialty nights in Cafe Caribe were great, especially the Bavarian Feast. We even tried something (by mistake, no less) that turned out to be a food revelation, and so I will tell you all: if you see the chocolate ginger cake being offered, TRY IT!!! International Cafe has friendly service, delicious coffee, and freshly-made donuts in the morning that are to die for. I was able to speak briefly with the Executive Sous Chef on board, and he had a lot of interesting things to say. He's been cruising for 14 years (8 with NCL, and now 6 with Princess), and he says that he actually likes Princess better. They give him the money he needs to get goof food, and when I asked him about the cutbacks and "Carnivalization" of the cuisine on Princess, he says, "Absolutely not. In fact, rather than cutting back, they're spending MORE." So there you have it, from a man who ought to know. Ultimate Balcony Dining: My BF and I did both the dinner and the breakfast. I'll start with dinner ($100/couple). If you hate being waited on hand and foot, if you hate LOADS of delicious food, if you hate incredibly competent service, free photos, and a gorgeous table set-up complete with flower arrangement and lantern for ambiance (since they don't do candles on the ship)...if you hate all of these things, DO NOT do Ultimate Balcony Dinner. Seriously. You'll be so mad when they show up right on scheduled time with cocktails and canapes. You'll be livid when you see how gorgeous your balcony looks, and when the photographer shows up to capture you in such a lovely setting. You will absolutely FROTH at the level of excellence in service, and the stunning taste of the food will make you so angry that you'll want to either fling it overboard or rub it in your hair. Especially the dessert (quinelles of mousseline, which are to die for). If you weren't rabid enough, wait until they bring cookies and maybe even fresh fruit for you to have with your champagne! We *did* have other things we wanted to do that evening, but after *three hours* of being pampered, we had to call in Fat. There was so much food that we even wound up bringing some of the fruit and most of the cookies down to the rest of the gang, who were out on their balcony playing cards. Breakfast is a bit more reserved. Your order is taken 24 hours in advance, the same with dinner. If there's anything on the set menu that doesn't agree with you (quiche lorraine, not so much for us), just mention it and they'll ask you how you'd like to substitute. They show up right on time with your breakfast, pastries, fruits, coffee, juice, and champagne, and then leave you to your own devices. Much less in-your-face than the dinner, but definitely appropriate. I couldn't handle that kind of service when I was barely awake. Sea Days: Lazy and wonderful. There were so many things to do, and yet we never felt like we absolutely had to do any of it. Pub Lunches in the Wheelhouse were delicious. The Mr. Sexy Legs contest by the pool was completely ridiculous and hilarious. We all found ways to enjoy ourselves. My uncle, who's been a professional musician for decades, brought his flute along, and got to sit in with the band in the Wheelhouse, and they liked him so much they invited him back for a second set! Princess Pop Star: A lovely experience. I qualified on the night of the first heat, and so many people came up to me during the cruise to wish me luck that really, I felt like I had already won (even though I didn't take first prize). They treated us like stars on the final night, keeping us in a VIP area, doing post-song interviews on the camera for all to see, and feeding us champagne. I definitely recommend it to anyone but the snotty. The snotty need not apply. It's too much fun for those who can't have a good time. Chef's Table: We were lucky enough to have Alfredo Marzi, Corporate Executive Chef for the whole cruise line, on board with us to conduct our Chef's Table. Apparently, he's only on the ship once a year, so it was a really nice thing for us. The food was exquisite, the wine was amazing, and again, the service was extraordinary. Once again, totally worth the extra money paid ($75/pp). They don't advertise this much on the ship, so I advise you to call and try to get on the list as soon as you board. The ship: She is gorgeous, and the crew keeps her absolutely spotless at all times. We didn't find the layout too awful challenging, even with my mother using two canes, as the elevators were never that long in coming and all seemed to be in working order. The recent drydock got her new carpets and tiles, as well, so everything was gleaming. We didn't attend the shows, so I can't speak to those. The Thermal Suite is really nice, but only buy the week-long pass if you're going to use it more than once! My brother used the fitness center every morning, and thought it was awesome. The Sanctuary was very peaceful, but also really deserted on the day my BF and I were there. Don't know about any of the other days. All in all, it was a wonderful experience for all of us. We got to see dolphins and flying fish as we were getting close to Grand Turk, and we spent a LOT of time on our balcony just marveling at the gorgeous views. I never ever felt too crowded, and felt more relaxed after being "trapped with 3200 people" than I usually do after spending time at home with minimal company. The Princess Pelicans program was great for the two young ones, and the people working there were very vigilant over their charges. We LOVE the Crown, both the experienced cruisers in our group and the cruising novices like myself. My boyfriend and I are already looking at what our next voyage will be! 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Sail Date: February 2009
My wife and I took our 5th and longest cruise this time, choosing Princess per itinerary and length.3 previous on NCL and 1 on Carnival and this our 1st on Princess.I am 51 and my wife 47.Went alone this time w/ high expectations as our ... Read More
My wife and I took our 5th and longest cruise this time, choosing Princess per itinerary and length.3 previous on NCL and 1 on Carnival and this our 1st on Princess.I am 51 and my wife 47.Went alone this time w/ high expectations as our cruise planner recommended Princess highly. Flew into Miami 2 days prior to embarkation and took Super Shuttle to Ft.Lauderdale to the tune of $66 for a 24 mile ride.Stayed at the Courtyard by Marriot.What a beautiful hotel w/ great location and fantastic views.Only complaint that there is no shuttle to airport/cruise port but caught the local bus for $2.50 and walked into the port area.We aren't cheap but a cab is $10-15 for a 1.5 mile ride. Embarkation: arrived at port at 1200 noon to a huge line.Met a great Canadian couple who had been there since 10:45 and were told ship would not start boarding until at least 2pm as there had been an Noro-virus outbreak and the ship was being "sanitized".No brainer there, sanitize away.Once line started moving it went very fast and we were on the ship in our cabin in about 30 min. Cabin: KK on deck 10, inside forward C-244.Nice decor.Large storage area made so by the smallest bathroom we have ever had.The shower can't possibly get any smaller.Living/bed area was about the same as other ships.Very firm mattress and had egg crate placed on 2nd day per other post's on C.C..Our cabin stewart was very cordial and efficient. Ship:as per other reviews the theater is way too small for # of passengers (our cruise was sold out 3100+)and getting there 30 min prior to shows was a must to get a seat.The Explorers Lounge where other acts took place had the same limitations and was considerably smaller than the theater.Grand Atrium was beautiful/elegant w/ often a 4 person string quartet playing classical music.The ship is large and poorly laid out.It seemed as if it was cut up and difficult to get around.We heard this complaint over/over during our cruise.The MUTS idea is a big hit w/ us and we really enjoyed the movies day and night.There seemed to be ample lounge chairs available even w/ the ever present "saving" going on.But frankly we had no problems finding 2 chairs pretty much when and where we wanted.There are 2 main pool areas mid ships and 1 small pool at the stern.These didn't seem to get used a whole lot.No pool slides but I doubt there were more than 20 children on board anyway and very few young couples either.My wife enjoyed the gym but was quite upset they didn't open earlier due to being built over cabins below.Shops were about the same as on other ships.Live band at pool side was good.Overall ship seemed in good shape and was clean though already showing signs of wear in carpeting etc. Food:had high expectations and were disappointed.3 main dining rooms, 1 traditional seating and 2 either/or anytime/traditional.No wait EVER w/ our anytime option.But all 3 dining rooms had the same menu each night so there was no variety to speak of unless going to buffet or one of the 2 upscale dining options.The morning buffet style breakfasts were chaos.There is no flow to these area's and though there are 4 area's they are all relatively small.We did not have breakfast/lunch in any main dining rooms.The variety at lunch/dinner in the buffet area's were good though.And the pizza was very good as was the grill at poolside.We ate one night in Crown Grill at $25 pp.The meal was good but not overly so as it should have been.Quite frankly we both felt the overall food is superior on NCL and we did in fact meet several devoted Princess cruiser's who felt as if this particular cruise was just off a bit.One couple had even been on Emerald 1 year prior and felt there was a big difference this time. Crew: in general the entire crew were fantastic.Cruise director was funny and energetic as were his asst's.Almost every crewman we met seemed happy and energetic. Shows:the comedy shows were very funny and the 2 shown in the theater we were able to get into were also well done.We both felt though that the shows in general are better and more contemporary on NCL.We do not do art auctions,bingo,etc. Drinks: they just seem to get more and more expensive each cruise we go on.On NCL when you buy the souvenir glass you get $2 off each drink you buy when you have that glass in hand, not on Princess.$6.95 + gratuity for regular drinks and 4 for the price of 5 buckets of beer that were just plain too rich for our pocketbooks.The cruise lines should note that in this current economy lowering the price even just a little would probably dramatically increase consumption.We did not spend much on board on drinks and chose to drink more when ashore where prices were more reasonable.We are not rich and simply have to budget somewhere in order to cruise each year. Excursions: only did 1 in Greneda.Way over priced for what we got, but had a good time and we know better but time there was very limited. Ports.Princess Cays: nice area but seemed extraordinarily crowded w/ just our 1 ship.Was a windy day and water seemed quite cool/cold.Good food at BBQ.Little else to do and were not allowed out of the general area.St Thomas: took cab to Coki beach and while small and crowded, had decent snorkeling/swimming.Drank a couple buckets of cold Presidente and enjoyed the sun.Dominica:took a 3-4 hr bus tour of interior to waterfalls etc and had a great time.Cynthia our tour guide was exceptional and only cost $50 at the pier. the took $5 cab ride to black sand beach to finish off the day.Would come back.Greneda:too short a time (see excursion above).Bonaire: took water taxi to Klein Bonaire to snorkle.What an incredible place, the best snorkeling we have ever had including in Hawaii.Did a little shopping prior to leaving.Aruba: what a total disappointment.1st time there and with all the hype about the place was shocked when got a few streets away from port area.Up by the resorts it is pretty nice and up past to the lighthouse but the other side and end of island are rugged and barren.Just flat expected more beaches and beauty. Debarkation: pretty well organized, no real complaints except that the cabs in Ft.Lauderdale are flat overpriced.$15.00 for a 2 mile 10 min ride is outrageous.And then they want a gratuity on top. Overall: our expectations were not met and we were disappointed.But wanted to branch out and try another line.Will probably go back to NCL next time as they seem to be more our style.We met many wonderful people (hi to Sandy and Leroy from Toronto) and still had a great time as weather was good and afterall, it's hard not to have a good time in the Caribbean in winter. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2009
This was our first Princess cruise, and we decided to book the Ruby Princess because it was a new ship, and the reviews were generally good. We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale 2 days prior to sailing, and we stayed at the Holiday Inn. The hotel ... Read More
This was our first Princess cruise, and we decided to book the Ruby Princess because it was a new ship, and the reviews were generally good. We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale 2 days prior to sailing, and we stayed at the Holiday Inn. The hotel accommodations were average and overpriced,but Ok for a pre-cruise stay. The embarkation went pretty well. We took a chartered bus from the hotel, and we arrived at Port Everglades by 11:30 AM. We were herded into a huge room with a large number of people and not enough seating! After a 30-45 minute wait, everyone filed out of the room in groups and were then dispatched to registration stations. We were then allowed onto the ship and we were in our room by about 12;45 PM. We found our way to the buffet for lunch, and we got an unpleasant taste of what to expect during most of the trip-unbearable crowds and lines! It felt like we were standing in line forever before we got our lunch, and then it took quite a while to find a place to sit! My luggage arrived at the room within a few hours, but my wife's luggage did not arrive at all! By 5;00Pm, I complained to our cabin steward, and he went to look for the luggage. He could not find it, and he suggested that I go to the purser. The purser suggested I wait and return at 7 PM before anything could be done. Since dinner was at 6 PM, I returned at 5:40 PM and told the purser I wished to check the luggage room myself. The purser then pointed to a group of 8 suitcases sitting in the open and unprotected about 50 feet away. I checked the suitcases, and I found my wife's suitcase(WITHOUT A LUGGAGE TAG)!! The purser said the luggage would be delivered to our cabin, but I refused and dragged it to the cabin myself! The ship itself is absolutely gorgeous and generally spotless. The crew and staff were from many different nations, and most were hardworking, friendly, and courteous. I am sorry to say that the only rudeness we encountered came from crew and employees from the US. For us, there were just too many passengers on board. We constantly encountered lines, and we had difficulty finding chairs for lounging and tables at which to eat. Another complaint was the constant smell of tobacco. Even though smoking is forbidden in many areas, we constantly were irritated by the smell of tobacco in all parts of the ship, but mainly in the cabin hallways and on the decks. For us, the problem was intolerable! There were passengers of all ages, but mainly under 45. There were numerous teenagers and children on board, many of them out of control. Also, there was no shortage of constantly crying babies! The main dining rooms were quite uncomfortable with an extremely high noise level, a feeling of crowdedness, and perpetually crying children. The service was good, but the food was remarkably below average-extremely rich with little taste! After trying the main dining room for several nights, we finally gave up and started eating dinner at the buffet. The food at the buffet was much better-average to above average, and the noise level was tolerable. The breakfasts and the lunches at the buffet were fine. One thing that bothered me was to be charged for ice cream! Room service was pretty good, but not enough variety on the menu! We did not eat in the specialty restaurants. We stayed in what is described as a mini-suite( more expensive and slightly larger than a balcony stateroom)). The cabin was beautiful, comfortable, and spacious, but whoever designed the balcony must have been on drugs! Our balcony had no covering, and it was totally visible to numerous other balconies above and around us! So much for privacy! Also, we had no protection from the elements(sun, wind, rain) and no protection from the horrible tobacco smoke! There were smokers occupying the cabins above us and on both sides of us. I do not understand why there cannot be a group of cabins set aside for non-smokers! I should add that our cabin steward was great! He did his best to meet our needs, and he was always friendly and courteous! The entertainment was OK, but I do not understand why the music has to be so loud. The loudness of the sound around the pool, in the lounges, and in the Princess Theater is guaranteed to injure one's hearing apparatus! The Movie Under The Stars is a good concept, but its sound is also too loud. The sound was disturbing enough in the immediate area of the movie screen, but it could be heard in all outdoors areas of the ship, thus destroying the evening ambience. There is certainly not enough seating in the Princess Theater. People began arriving 45-60 minutes before the shows, and there were usually no seats available by 20-30 minutes before the shows were to begin. We finally gave up and stopped trying to attend the shows! I should also add that the cruise and entertainment director was too ever present, obtrusive, and a bit annoying. S he finally began getting on our nerves! The "street performers" in the Piazza were entertaining and enjoyable(although it was annoying that some of the acts lasted only 5 minutes!) The Ports of Call were less than desirable, and for us, not an attraction. Because of the crowds,waiting for the tenders became quite irritating! The disembarkation went fairly well, but we were forced off the ship by 8 AM. It seems we should have been given an extra hour at least to relax and enjoy breakfast! We booked a transfer to the airport through Princess. We stood in line for an hour waiting for a bus. After I originally booked the cruise, I had asked Princess representatives what time I should expect to be picked up by a bus. No one could(would) give me an answer. To be safe, I therefore booked a late flight, and we had to sit at the airport for quite awhile. For the reasons described above, we were generally disappointed on our first(and last) Princess cruise. In summary, our principal complaints were with luggage disposition, disappointing food, disappointing ports, too many people, long lines, too much tobacco exposure,crowded and noisy dining room, terrible stateroom balcony design,loudness of music and inability to attend shows because of not enough seats. The positives were as follows: beautiful ship,wonderful crew and staff, nice entertainment in the Piazza, and nice cabin(except for the balcony!) Read Less
Sail Date: February 2009
I will start with the beauty of the ship. Let me remind you that beauty is only skin deep. I booked this cruise for my anniversary gift to my wife. I had arranged for roses and chocolate covered strawberries to be in the room at ... Read More
I will start with the beauty of the ship. Let me remind you that beauty is only skin deep. I booked this cruise for my anniversary gift to my wife. I had arranged for roses and chocolate covered strawberries to be in the room at embarkation. The roses were there but the strawberries were MIA. This takes the element of surprise out of it when you have to ask where they are. They were brought up all at one time!!! Two trays at once, they are not any good after put them in the ref. They next stop was the balcony of the mini-suite. Great balcony on the 9th floor (6' x 8')the 10th are bigger. The sea spray and salt build-up on the glass door and glass railings was NOT acceptable. We ask for these to be cleaned and maintained, this was not done. Our luggage finally got ther about 8 pm Do not stay this far back as the vibration on the PORT side is bad, I never found the machine on the nightstand for quarters but that was free. Now on to the rest. You must get off the pool deck at the Terrace pool at 7-ish they are afraid that the chairs will blow off with you sitting in them. The attendants on the pools were hard to find and you might go thirsty waiting. The chair HOGGING was horrible. I am an early riser and there would be towels on the loungers at 7 am. The very top deck (sky deck 18 mid ship)the chairs were never unstrapped this would have been much nicer for people who don't want all the traffic, one way up and one way down; not an option. The cruise director on TV is soooo annoying that you will turn her off too. The volume level on all speakers and movies is full blast. The BINGO games are too short for $20/per card (4 games). Bring your own dobbers. I did win $250 on Friday to offset the over-priced scuba trips I took. Finding a place to sit for any-time dining and buffets was difficult. The food was not up to my expectations. The Pepperoni pizza and the hot dogs and fries were the best FREE meal on the ship. The BEST dining for an upcharge was The Crown Grille($25/steak and $9 more get lobster). Spend the $34 for the full meal deal and eat the Brazilian Lobster tail, much better than Maine lobster for my count. The ports are OK. Jamaica do not get off unless you enjoy saying NO THANK YOU every 3 seconds. Grand Cayman, too many banks beautiful beaches. Cozumel, great eat the tortilla soup at the Fiesta Americana Dive Resort. Princess Cays, the island you want to be stranded on just make sure you have shoes. Some people think that glass and bare feet go together(not me) bottle caps are everywhere except the trashcan. The ship is very hard to navigate at mid-ship levels 5 & 6 to get through you must go up or down one floor to get around. If you like to know what is happening in the world while you are at sea, go to the computer bar and pay.75/minute. The only news you get is Nancy Grace and Octo-mom. the "patter" is going to make sure you know about the Sanctuary not any news; unlike Celebrity (my favorite) This was my first Princess cruise and probably my last. I will certainly remember my anniversary for sure. Before I go; be sure to allow 4-5 hrs to make a plane once you get to FLL from the terminal. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2009
This was our fourth cruise and our third with Princess.  We cruised RCCL in May to Bermuda.  We are 53 and 62 and believe that vacations are for relaxing, learning about other cultures, and meeting other people.  We are not connoisseurs ... Read More
This was our fourth cruise and our third with Princess.  We cruised RCCL in May to Bermuda.  We are 53 and 62 and believe that vacations are for relaxing, learning about other cultures, and meeting other people.  We are not connoisseurs but just enjoy being served and not having to cook the food that we are eating.  Overall, this was a marvelous cruise with a few glitches that bothered us but certainly didn't ruin our trip for us.  The best part of our cruise:  the wonderful people we met from Cruise Critic!We left the day before and stayed overnight at the Hampton Inn in Plantation. Very nice hotel with a free shuttle from the airport and also to the Port Everglades. The hotel allowed us to check in early and were happy to assist us in any and all requests for information about the area. There is a mall across the street and a Target about a 10 minute walk away. Quite a few restaurants are within a 10-15 minute walk including Red Lobster, Applebees, Olive Garden and other local spots. There is a Crown Liquor store about 1 mile from the hotel and is a welcome walk after a big dinner. The pool area is small but lovely, surrounded by palm trees and other tropical plants. We were able to sign up for their first shuttle which is at 11 AM and it took about 20 minutes to get to the cruiseport. We made stops to drop off others before we got to the Island Princess but each stop took less than 5 minutes. EMBARKATION Princess truly excels in embarkation. We arrived at the terminal at about 11:30 am and we were in our room by 11:50! The longest we had to wait was in the security line when we entered the terminal. After dropping off our carry-on's, we spent some time exploring the ship. We've been on the Grand and Caribbean Princess and the dEcor on the Island was very similar. To our untrained eye, the Island looked to be in very good condition. Next we headed to the Horizon buffet for lunch. Designed by a blind man seems to be the only way to describe the buffet area. The area seems to be much smaller than on the Grand or Caribbean and the placement of food islands in the middle just makes for confusion and and jam-ups in the flow of people through the area. The food was OK, but certainly not as good as what we had on our welcome buffet on RCCL. By the time we finished lunch and returned to our room our luggage was outside our door. We were unpacked and ready to start our cruise by 2 PM! This was the quickest we had ever received our luggage. Our Cruise Critic group had set up a meet & greet with Princess, and they reserved a section of Deck 15 for our get together including tables and chairs and our own servers. This was a nice effort on Princess's part especially during sailaway when they are so busy. DINING We utilize Anytime Dining as we hate to be tied to a particular time and table. We did notice that there were times when there were lines of people waiting for tables. As we tended to eat around 8 PM most nights with individuals we met on CC, we never had to wait very long for a table for 6, 8 or even 10. Only one night, when we wanted to eat around 7:15 did we have to wait over 40 minutes for a table. The food was good, not great, but again, if I don't have to shop for it, prepare it and serve it, it works for me! The service, however, seemed to be lacking in the dining room. Most servers just seemed to be going through the motions without any pride or joy in their job and were less than personable. And forget about after a small breakout of Norovirus and having to wait to be served rolls, butter and all those things that are usually on the table. One morning our coffee and eggs got cold waiting to have milk poured, sugar delivered and our eggs salted and peppered. It was annoying to have to continually remind both waiters and assistant waiters that we need more rolls/butter or remind them to bring syrup when you order pancakes. Geez, even IHOP knows how to do that. The buffet was better for breakfast than for lunch, but once the Norovirus broke out and no one could serve themselves, it become a logjam with all the waiters trying to serve everyone. We found that the best bet for lunch was at the grill - very good burgers, hot dogs and bratwurst - or the pizza on Deck 14. Great pizza with a nice crispy crust...delicious! The Bayou Cafe was excellent with well-prepared filet mignons and delicious lobster. It was worth the extra cost of $15. Several of our group did Sabatini's and while they said it was good with lots of food, it was remarked that better Italian food can be found elsewhere. ENTERTAINMENT The entertainment on the ship was varied and good. We enjoyed the productions of Piano Man and Tribute and heard that the crew talent show was outstanding. The magician/comic, Scott Alexander was good and the comedy of Fred Klett had everyone roaring; Billy Vader, the other comic, wasn't good or funny, forgetting his act right in the middle. Some in our group took advantage of ballroom dancing lessons, line dancing, trivia and special presentations. Everyone was happy with the quality of these activities. We made our normal deposit in the casino and here again there were issues with service as my husband complained that no one ever came around to ask if you wanted something to drink. He had to search out a server while playing. PORTS: ARUBA: Since we had only a short window of time here, a group of 12 of us took two vans to Eagle Beach across from the Amsterdam Manor. The charge was $3 per person one way. The beach was beautiful and empty (especially at 8 AM). The water was much cooler than we expected but refreshing. Very little wave activity. Lounges were available for $6 each and we were all able to secure palapas to sit under if we wanted some shade. There were restrooms available for use at the Amsterdam Manor and had we been there longer, we could have taken advantage of the bar and grill right on the beach which opens at 11 AM. We took the local bus back to the ship at a cost of only $1.30. Shopping area was quite crowded with a mix of high-end shops and locals selling their wares. CARTAGENA: For goodness sakes, get off the ship and see this beautiful city. Our group of 20 arranged a tour with Lee Miles. We had Doris as our guide and she was wonderful, sharing with us her love and knowledge of Cartagena. A large mini-bus was big enough to accommodate our group of 20. We were the first group at La Popa Monastery and had time to take pictures in its beautiful courtyard before it became over run with others from the cruise excursions. We then rode through the city to the San Felipe Fortress and climbed all the way to the top where Doris explained the rich history of the Fort and shared many secrets about its construction. After that we visited Las Bovedas for some souvenirs and headed to the old city to begin a one hour walk through the beautiful streets. We toured the Palace of the Inquisition and walked through Bolivar Square. Did we encounter locals trying to sell us stuff? Yes, everywhere, but a firm 'No Thank you' worked every time. At no time did we ever feel unsafe. We ended our tour at Pierino Gallo Center where Lee Miles has his emerald store. While you pay for your tour there, there is no expectation or pressure to buy any jewelry at all. There is a great little store there, "Coffee And..." where you can buy some good Colombian coffee and other souvenirs. Doris allowed more than enough time at each venue and we never felt rushed. PANAMA CANAL: The reason for our trip. The trip from the Caribbean Sea through the Gatun locks was amazing. When they say get up early to see it all, they mean it. We didn't wake until 6:30 AM and missed entering the first lock! Be sure to view the trip through from both sides and the front and back of the ship, totally different perspectives give you a much better understanding of what is happening. It took over 2.5 hours to get through the locks and into Gatun Lake. Here is where we ran into one of our glitches. We were scheduled for the Panama by Boat excursion which would take us all the way through the canal to the Pacific Ocean by ferry and then back to the ship by bus. This was the first of 20 excursions to tender off the ship and was cancelled 10 minutes before we were to leave. Princess's explanation was that there was too much traffic throughout the canal and we would arrive back in Cristobal too late. We accepted that and asked to be put on another excursion. We were told by a member of the shore excursion staff that we were stuck on the ship; they could not accommodate us on any other excursion. When pressed about trying to do something for us, we were rudely told to get out of the way. While we understood the traffic explanation we were very upset being treated the way we were and not being able to see what we had traveled so far for. Our outrage took us to passenger services where they did what they could and offered us the opportunity to put in writing our complaints. These were addressed by the tour office and onboard credit was issued to all who had booked the excursion. I am sure this tour has been cancelled in the past and believe that Princess should have some type of alternative plan as one cannot just walk off the ship and grab a taxi to learn about the local culture. So, we stayed on the ship for 6 hours as it went back through the locks and got off to shop at the market on the pier in Cristobal. LIMON, COSTA RICA. Here we had prebooked an excursion with J.J. He met us at the pier exactly as he had said with a large luxury passenger bus for 18 of us. He has a vast knowledge of Costa Rica and you can tell he loves his country. Our first stop was a local fruit stand on the side of the road where we sampled locally grown organic bananas, star apples, oranges, and the sweetest, juiciest pineapple any of us every tasted. We then headed off to a DelMonte Banana Plantation where J.J. gave us a full explanation of the growing, harvesting and packaging of the bananas. Who knew so much was involved in the production of this tasty produce! It was then off for a one hour tour of the Torteguero Canal by boat. We didn't see a lot of wildlife, some herons and other birds and some sloths up in the trees but it was beautiful. J.J. stopped and picked some flowers for us to see up close and also stopped at a friend's to show off his pet...a small crocodile that we had an opportunity to touch. J.J. then took us to Playa Bonita for a swim (beautiful warm water with some great waves) and an authentic Costa Rican lunch (casada with chicken) with good local beer. We finished with a visit to a local supermarket where we picked some good Costa Rican coffee at a great price as well as vanilla and banana vinegar. (J.J. has some great recipes that he shared with us!) Again, we were never rushed and what was originally thought to be a 4-hour tour lasted 6 hours. OCHO RIOS, JAMAICA. We had originally scheduled a private catamaran to the Falls and then snorkeling. It was scheduled for 9 AM. However, in checking my email on the ship it was discovered that the time was switched to 12:30 PM and as we had to be back on the ship at 3:30 PM, we knew we would be too rushed and cancelled. So that left us with a last-minute decision as to what to do. Along with another couple we chose the Chukka River Tubing excursion through the ship, and we were happy we did. It was a somewhat cool, overcast day as we left for our trip up into the mountains of Jamaica. As we glimpsed the river and its rapids through the trees on the way up, we knew we were in for some good tubing and the trip down did not disappoint. The rain, which began as we started our trip down the river, just added to the ambiance and beauty of the White River Valley. And those rapids were so much fun. The three guides on the river were extremely helpful and friendly. THE SHIP. The Island Princess is a beautiful ship that, other than the buffet, is beautifully thought out. It never, ever felt crowded. And while the average age on the ship was older, probably mid-sixties, there were a few young couples and children and teens. We never had a problem finding a lounge chair in the shade or the sun and were blessed with beautiful weather everyday except in Ocho Rios. DISEMBARKATION. As with embarkation, it was a breeze. We were off the ship by 9 AM and at the airport via taxi by 9:45 AM. This was a wonderful trip shared with some amazing people who we are now fortunate enough to call our friends. Given the opportunity we would definitely sail this itinerary again but would most likely choose to go all the way through the canal on the ship. We will also sail on Princess again, but after speaking with others, we will probably try Celebrity to experience a better quality of service. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2009
This is the first cruise my wife and I have gone on together. We have both cruised once before. She cruised with Norwegian; myself with Carnival. For the first time with Princess, I have to say we were both very pleased with the ... Read More
This is the first cruise my wife and I have gone on together. We have both cruised once before. She cruised with Norwegian; myself with Carnival. For the first time with Princess, I have to say we were both very pleased with the experience. Living in Arizona, we drove in the night before staying with a friend. So, we did not need a shuttle or hotel for this part of our vacation. We arrived at port just before noon. We were in group 7 and instantly thought this is going to be awhile. We waited for about 30 minutes before they called our number and within 10 minutes we were onboard. Surprisingly, our room was ready so we went to see our living quarters for the next week. We stayed in E100, an ocean view room on the Emerald deck. The room was small but very clean. For the limited space, it is organized as well as can be expected. I did move the small glass table into the closet to gain space. I had read on a review to bring a power strip but did not need it. There is a two plug outlet at the desk which covered all of our needs. The wall in front of the desk is mirrored so my wife used this area to put on her makeup and do her hair. It worked just fine. She never complained and we never got on either's nerves. As almost all of the reviews, the storage space was more than adequate. Our luggage arrived mid afternoon just as we expected. The ship is big and gorgeous. It is very clean and shows minimal wear. We were in the very front of the ship and I swear that was the longest hallway to walk. You definitely get your exercise. I had read the ship was difficult to find your way around so I expected issues. For this reason, I used the hallway to travel back and forth. Meaning if I was heading to the horizon court, I would walk to the aft, or back, of the ship then go up to deck 14. It made it so much easier. There are plenty of diagrams throughout showing where everything is. The food was good. I am not going to say it was the best but what can you expect when the kitchen is feeding over 2900 passengers. The horizon court had plenty of choices and was like any other buffet. The fruit, especially the pineapple, was fantastic. The poolside grill was good; the hot dog being the best. I had read this was an additional charge but it is not. I will say the choice dining left us confused for the first evening or two. So this part is VERY important to hear, we chose the late seating. I thought that meant that with 'your choice' we could eat at any one of the four restaurants onboard at 8:00. I was wrong. On your sea card, which is issued as your board the ship, it will state on the bottom what time and which restaurant you are assigned to. We were Vivaldi at 8:15 table 104. It was the third night before we figured this out. The dinner service was top notch and we were pleased once we got into the established routine. The cruise staff did a great job with the entertainment. We went to trivia once and had a great time. My wife really enjoyed Bingo and I think we only missed once. She won once. She was so loud that I nearly crawled under the table but the staff enjoyed her excitement. We went to most of the shows and I was very impressed with the singers and dancers. The girl singers were by far the best. We went to two comic acts and it was worth our time. The second day at sea was sunny and finally warm. The cruise staff did a great job on the pool deck with games and what not. The entire staff was very outgoing and welcoming. The cruise director, Josh, is hilarious. The disembarkation process was incredibly fast and very smooth. We received a packet with our arranged time which was 9:30 but received an alternative to walk off, carrying our own luggage, if we would like. We chose to walk off at 8:05. We gathered in the Explorers Lounge to be called. Just before our time, we were called and within 15 minutes we were in our car driving away. Neither of us could believe how easily we disembarked. They truly have this process down to a science. All in all, we really don't have any negative comments about our experience. I do wish the dinner seating had been explained more clearly. The Horizon Court is a little slow to clean tables or return with a drink. Rather than that, we had a great time and will do it again. The ports were enjoyable with my wife falling in love with Puerto Vallarta. The ship was beautiful and well maintained. I think as long as you use your hallway to travel the ship then up or down it is easy to navigate. The food and service was very good. We really enjoyed the entertainment so keep a close eye on the Princess Patter. It will be delivered each evening to your room with the schedule of the next day's events. My wife would tear off the page and keep it with us. You won't go wrong with choosing the Sapphire Princess for your cruise. Read Less
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