1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Princess Cruises
  4. Princess Cruises Cruise Reviews

2,269 Princess Romantic Cruise Reviews

This was our first sailing with Princess; our first cruise was RCI. I enjoyed the trip and the total escape a cruise gives you. While I enjoyed the overall experience, I have a mixed review. The ship was great. I liked the layout ... Read More
This was our first sailing with Princess; our first cruise was RCI. I enjoyed the trip and the total escape a cruise gives you. While I enjoyed the overall experience, I have a mixed review. The ship was great. I liked the layout better than the mega ships of RCI. The Crown is a large ship and does take some time to get your bearings, but I felt small in ways - not crowded. I liked that there were various nooks and multiple entertainment venues. It meat you didn't have the majority of the ship ion the same place at the same time. There was plenty of seating near the pools and multiple pools to use. The movies under the stars at the one pool was nice - movies (and sporting events even) day and night. Rooms were standard cruise ship rooms. We splurged on a balcony. With the number of balconies on this ship, the cost was not that much more per person for the balcony. The extra space was nice especially if one person rises early or goes to bed late, it gave a place to go and read while the other one slept. Only problem was the hairdryer is terrible. Bring your own if you need one. I purchased the weekly pass for the spa's thermal suite. Absolutely loved it! Never crowded, but avoid it during the boot camp class in the fitness center. It becomes noisy and hard to relax. A bonus as a spa customer, you can use the showers in the spa which are much larger than the ones is the stateroom. We ate in the dinning room 3 times during our trip - 2 formal nights, one casual. Part of the problem is we opted for the early seating (6:00) which does not allow much time to get ready for dinner after a day in port when you don't return until 5:00 and we like to watch the ship leave port. Food in the formal dinning room was good, but not spectacular. I had expected something a little more special from the dinning room. The soups were ALWAYS wonderful and this is from a salad person. Do yourself a favor, skip the salads (unremarkable) and go for the soups. Main entrees and deserts were hit and miss. Wait staff also tried to sell us others things every night we were there. A little obnoxious. Buffet meals were more what I expected out of a buffet and often mimicked the main dinning room meals, but not exactly. Food was good and it gave you the option to try different things in one setting. It also gave you the option of getting something different if you didn't like what you had the first time. (One night I tried 3 different deserts before I found something I liked) The only drawback to the buffets was they had long lines and were crowded during the dinner hour. There are three buffet locations - 2 in Horizon and 1 in Caribe. Every time we went there, only one of these options were ever open at a time and you had to check each place to find out which one was open. Pizza is great and became a late night ritual. Sabatinis is great - worth every penny. Just go VERY hungry and don't eat the bread - it will fill you up. Also think one area they can improved on is the entertainment. Comedians were not that great - material was not fresh, heard the jokes before. Stage productions were all musical numbers with older music and did not appeal to my age group (40s) or probably anyone younger. I can see my parents enjoying these shows. They need to add shows that appeal to a broader audience if they want to attract younger cruisers. Overall, I enjoyed myself, as did my husband. Would just like to see improvements in the lines and entertainment options if I sail with Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
We thought the food, service of the crew and excursions on the Crown were excellent. Of course there are areas to improve, since there are so many ships to sail going the same place. We had a mini suite on Emerald deck before and loved ... Read More
We thought the food, service of the crew and excursions on the Crown were excellent. Of course there are areas to improve, since there are so many ships to sail going the same place. We had a mini suite on Emerald deck before and loved it, due to late booking we ended up the a balcony on the Rivera deck which was very nice. The mattress needed to be upgraded and the AC at the lowest is at 72, so we always bring a fan. The big show numbers and the comedian in the Princess theater was boring. The costumes designs were the worst we have seen and the "Elvis" Las Vegas routine was almost comical in being so bad. I would suggest the movies on TV. Tendering to Cayman and the Princess Cays can be tedious. We were in line for over an hour coming back from the Cayman excursion to get back on the ship. The Princess Cays have a loud band playing outside the compound that competes with the band that Princess provides, which we loved. We had rented the blue shell beach chairs, but finally gave up, the noise. The local staff on the Cays are surly and just there for the paycheck. Fortunately, the ship food staff comes to the beach and does a great job. We had the early self walk off departure, so we showed up in the right place and no one made any announcements, the doors opened and chaos ensued as everyone tried to leave at once. Before there was someone in the lounge giving directions, so I assume someone just slept in and missed the early shift. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
Emerald Princess 11-28-10 and 12-8-10 B2B C751 Aft Suite Summary Cruise Review Overall In the top 4 of our 20 cruises. And not just because of the suite either, although the suite perks of Sabbatini's ... Read More
Emerald Princess 11-28-10 and 12-8-10 B2B C751 Aft Suite Summary Cruise Review Overall In the top 4 of our 20 cruises. And not just because of the suite either, although the suite perks of Sabbatini's for breakfast, dining room menu room service and the extra room did not hurt at all. We were never bored, had a blast and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and even in 20 days, still could not do it all. That is the mark of a great cruise. Service: Top notch. From Elena in Sabbatini's to Armen in the dining room to the room service personnel to Carlos, our room steward, to the bar staff in all the lounges and up on the decks, service was simply outstanding. No issues in getting glasses of water or diet coke. All friendly, smiling, eager to please and a pleasure to interact with. The Ship: The Emerald is a full Gem Class Super Grand. Probably the pinnacle of the Fincanteri Super Grand designs first produced in the Caribbean Princess and culminates in the Emerald, Crown and Ruby. It has the extra Riviera deck of people, no shopping cart handle Skywalkers, Club Fusion, with the Casino on Deck 6, the Crown on Deck 7 and with the wheelhouse forward of explorers to make room for a larger photo gallery. The ship is absolutely gorgeous and we love the Club Fusion concept and how it got used on the ship. The walking/jogging track on top of Skywalkers is a great idea, the gym is state of the art with Precor elliptical and treadmills and the Promenade, while still narrow and with the stairs detour to Deck 8, is still a great walk around the ship. Food: Good to very good in the dining room. The HC was also surprisingly good as well. I'm not a Horizon Court lunch fan, but the cold salads at lunch were exceptional. The most noticeable thing about the food was that it was very well seasoned to our American tastes, which meant sweeter desserts and a little more salt, pepper and heavier on spicing. Horizon Court dinners were quite good as well. But of course the best part was ordering off the breakfast, lunch and dinner menus to the suite to eat on the balcony overlooking the stern wake. Bonaire was probably the highlight of the dinners on the balcony because the ship was docked till late and we were able to eat in beautiful silence while the town lit up as the sky darkened. We even had guests on the balcony one night as Ken and Merrily, the on board ballroom dance instructors, joined us for dinner. The room service staff dutifully delivered a cart full of food and I served as we talked and ate while the ship slid through the water. Aft balconies are simply the best. The lamb was outstanding. I had lamb 5 times in the first ten days including Crown Grill and Chef's table. It was all really, really good. Chef's table was the food highlight and was worth every penny. This was our 5th or 6th chef's table, and we never tire of the experience. We love anytime dining and not feeling obligated to show up at a certain time. On a couple of occasions we had a light dinner in Vines, drinking wine, having sushi from Vines and salads from the International Cafe. Very light, very nice, very tasty. Entertainment: I didn't really care for the new production shows. Not as much as the ones in the past like Caliente, one of my favorites. And it wasn't the acting or the dancing or the singing, it was the writing. One of the better ones, Boogie Shoes, had great potential, but had a couple of non-sequitor transitions in the writing that just made me go 'huh'? Of course it also had a couple of memorable moments, the best of which was the cowboy pole dance and the boots segments. Motor City was very good, as it is one of the older ones and one of our favorites as well. The comedians were by and large ok. Rolling Jay Moore's adult show kind of flopped, but his regular show was hilarious. Billy Vader was good, but when he plays off Tim Donovan, its one hilarious ride. The little vignettes in the Piazza are worth seeing. From Etienne the juggler, to Alyessa the world champion hoola hooper, they are very entertaining and typically, the performer does several different routines, not just one, so it pays to catch as many as you can. There was plenty of dancing. With Phoenix Rising in the Wheelhouse, Icon in Explorer's trading off with the orchestra and canned music in Fusion, we had no lack of dancing. In fact on the last day between line dance class, ballroom class, Fusion, Explorer's and the Piazza, we put 13,600+ steps on Judy's pedometer - over 4.5 miles of dancing. Activities: This is where the Emerald, for us, really shined. Tim Donovan and his team made this cruise great for us. Plenty of non-trivia activities, even though we like to observe the musical trivia's. Line dance class with Miko and Alicia, ballroom class with Ken and Merrily, 50's night, 80's night, country western night, Halloween night, the Island Deck Party and Pub Night with Emma, Michael, Alex and Mark, plus MUTS as a backup - we always had something to do - usually two things at the same time! Pub night and the Island Deck party were the most memorable for us if we had to choose, but we enjoyed all the activities and the enthusiasm of the staff was infectious and just made for one great night after another. Night after night we drug ourselves back to the cabin after midnight, sore and tired, still high from all the dancing and partying, but thoroughly satisfied and talking about what a great time we had. This is a symptom of a great cruise - needing a vacation to recover from your vacation! The Itinerary: We loved the itinerary. Especially since we've been to most of the islands before, we stayed on the ship, or got off for a short time, and enjoyed a leisurely pace uninterrupted by excursion schedules. The islands are beautiful, the people are friendly and certainly not as pushy as Jamaica or Mexico. The ship is our primary destination, but we do like to get off and wander around sometimes. Princess Cays and St. Thomas were the highlights for us. Princess Cays because of the extensive facilities, beach combing opportunities and great lunch; St Thomas for its great snorkeling, clear water and huge/numerous fish. Treazzure, our sole excursion on this trip, was a great way to spend a day in St Thomas. The food, the snorkeling, the crew were just great and highly recommended. Dominica, Antigua and Bonaire, three islands we've never been to before, were very nice. The shops of handmade jewelry at Dominica were bargains and the crystal clear water at Bonaire was just incredibly beautiful. The Cabin: C751 on the Emerald was the Martinique Suite on the aft starboard side of the ship. It has the two beams on the balcony which do limit chair placement, but nothing major. Aft balconies are our favorite. Hands down. Side balconies are windy when the ship is in motion - aft balconies are not - plus the wake noise is perfect for falling asleep to. The suite was all and more that we hoped for. Roomy, especially the five piece two room bath, walk in closet, dressing table AND desk with a wet bar and dual sliding doors to the balcony, it was simple wonderful. The suite perks are just simply icing on the cake! Emerald Princess Travel Log: Introduction We're back and ready for another fun filled cruise. Our favorite time of year for a cruise - the "cheap" time for cruising between Thanksgiving and Christmas. On our CC signature this is the "traded off cruise". We were going to do Australia in January, but then the 28 day round trip out of LA on the Sapphire came out and we opted for this cruise and the Sapphire instead of Australia. Australia will have to wait until 2013. I have brought the dreaded work "laptop" and cell phone. Yes I know it's a vacation, but there are things going on at work that I need to be ready to help on. I just have to avoid ticking off Judy and having my laptop and cell phone end up in 6000 feet of water - but better the laptop than me! So I will be testing VPN access via cruise ship satellite hookups. It also means I can write a better travelog and upload it rather than composing in the internet cafe. Cruise Overview: This cruise will be the 20 day (B2B of two 10 day Emerald cruises). We will be visiting St. Kitts, Barbados, St Lucia, Antigua, St Thomas (twice), Princess Cays (twice), Dominica, Grenada, Bonaire, Aruba. Two of the islands we have never visited before and we are doing our first private tour on St Thomas. We have no other tours scheduled. We typically stay on the ship and enjoy having the run of the facilities while everyone else goes ashore. This will be our 20th cruise on Princess, our first cruise on the Emerald, our first cruise on the Gem class "super grands" and our first cruise in a suite. Judy does still not know about the suite. I'm hoping to keep her in the dark until I get her actually in the door - it's a surprise. We shall see if I am successful - of course explaining the luggage tags will be a problem - time to get my dancing shoes on. For those of you who haven't followed our past adventures, our new found cruise passion is dancing - ballroom, latin, disco, line - if it has a beat and Judy can get me on it, we can dance it. Amazed at Derrick Hough's choreography, rooted for Jennifer Grey, felt sorry for Max and just love Cheryl Burke - or at least I do! So we will be haunting the wheelhouse or wherever there is dance music. We will also be in the front rows during the production shows, the best place to experience them. We are also foodies. Loved Season 6 of Top Chef, rooted for Ming Tsi - but he blew it, have noticed Bourdein's bad side has really taken a back seat lately, love Alton Brown, knew Artie was going to win from like Week 2, would kill for a table at Morimoto's and would like to follow Guy around the country. We hope to do Chef's table an Ultimate Balcony Dinner and take advantage of the suite perk to deliver dinner to the room on more than one occasion. 11-26-2010: Fort Lauderdale We traveled on T-Day to ensure weather wouldn't affect our schedule - we have a history of blizzards happening on the day we fly - and it was cheaper. But good flights yesterday, no problems and the luggage arrived all in one piece and in the first wave of luggage instead of waiting until the last minute and causing my blood pressure to spike! Cabbed over to the Hilton Marina, splurged on HH points for this trip, and hit the hay. We have a tower room overlooking the marina to the North. Good view. Room is older style, cramped, but functional and there is a balcony. It will be strange moving onto the ship on Sunday into a larger room, but hey, I'm game. Today has been a good day. We wanted to check out Fort Lauderdale while we had the chance, and the best way is walking. We got up and had our free HHonors breakfast and then walked up to the riverwalk and the Museum of Science IMAX theatre to see Harry Potter. About a 3 mile walk, great weather, overcast with a breeze, so it was nice and cool. The movie was better than I expected. They did a real good job editing an overall boring book - how much camping in England can you take? After the movie it was time for lunch at 100suite on the river walk. A very nice place with calamari, clams in wine sauce and Samuel Adam's Octoberfest. Beer, clams, fried calamari and flatbread - what more can you ask! There are many restaurants on the riverwalk, fresh seafood, Italian, you name it. If you have time to kill and want a nice environment to walk around in, this is the place to kill a day. The Riverwalk is very nicely done and it has a real river. The most interesting part is wandering by all the yachts, boats and super yachts. These things are huge, sleek and impressive! The boat traffic is fun to watch, from 100' huge yachts to 10' zodiacs and everything in between.We tried to get on the water taxi at several locations, but all the boats were packed to the gills. We ended up taking a regular cab back to the Hilton to relax for a few hours awaiting the sushi bar opening. The China Grill at the Hotel has good sushi but at a high price. Really expensive, but I had promised Judy sushi and sushi she would have. (One piece of Nigiri for $5 is a bit much.) We did go during happy hour and the drinks were 2 for 1, which only made me wonder how much it would have been if we had not gone during happy hour! After dinner we walked up to the Walgreens to get some water. There is a Publix up the street a little further - south side of 17th - for those of you who want to stock up before the cruise. All in all. A good day. 11-27-10 Fort Lauderdale: Even with the day before's long walks, at 0200 I was up and awake. Excited about the cruise I guess. We decided to go to Hugh Taylor Birch state park this morning and hike around the park to see the sites. We cabbed up to the park, it's about 4 miles from the hotel, and hiked around the park for the morning. It's a beautiful park. Full of spider of all colors and sizes, and all kinds of dogs and dog lovers. So having been away from our two labs for two days, we petted almost every dog in sight. For some reason the rental shops were not open. No canoes or bikes to rent. They have a nice pond/lake to canoe in, which would have been fun. Biking would have been fun as well as the place is pretty flat. After circling the park we headed to the Fort Lauderdale beach. We had a beautiful walk back to the hotel highlighted by seeing Oasis of the Seas at dock from the top of the 17th street bridge. That is one monster of a ship for sure. The weather was overcast, which really cut down on the heat and we had a nice cooling breeze from the sea. We did lunch at the Bimini Boatyard just west on 17th street from the hotel. For some reason a fancy burger sounded and tasted quite good and their key lime pie was great. There are a lot of restaurants, liquor and grocery stores in walking distance along 17th street for those of you staying at the Hilton. At 7pm we had our pre-cruise dinner with some of the CC roll call participants at the Quarterdeck. There are actually two in the local area, one just north of 17th street on Cordova and one further north on 1A nearer the state park. We all had the chance to release the pent up excitement generated in the roll call awaiting this cruise and put names to faces. The food was good, but as is typical to this part of Fort Lauderdale, on the more expensive side. I had the steamers, which are nothing like Pacific Northwest steamers, but still really good. Judy had shrimp and pasta, always a good combination. All in all, not bad. Staying these two days in the Hilton Marina reminded me of why we cruise. Resort destination hotels are really expensive, and they charge for everything! I travel and stay at business hotels 60+ nights a year, typically Hilton and more specifically Hampton, Hilton Garden or Homewood. Free breakfast, free dinner (Homewood), free internet, free business centers are the norm even for non Hilton Honors members. At Hilton resort properties, like the Hilton Marina, internet is $13 per day for non-Gold+ members, the "free" breakfast has so many rules (orange, glass, or coffee, not both, one sandwich or yogurt, or cereal) and upcharges Judy wanted a rule book! I swear there might even be a counter behind the roll of toilet paper! Cruising is just cheaper than land vacations, and its one of the reasons the variety of upcharges on Princess don't bother me too much. As long as the basic cruise and food are there, the optional little nickel and diming around the edges don't bother us too much. Besides, one week in Wakiki on a beach front hotel will make anyone long for the simplicity of cruising! The next cruise out of FLL will be from a different hotel. Maybe back to the Hampton Plantation, or one of the Hilton Garden Inns or the Hilton airport. But I'm glad we did it once, just to check it out. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day. Re-packing the suite cases for embarkation! We'll catch a cab at 11 and run over to the port to get in line. See ya all on board! 11-28-10 Emerald Princess Ok, now we are live! Slept a little later this morning, but still anxious. This would be the day I spring the big surprise. A suite on the ship rather than our typical balcony cabin. A Christmas present just a few weeks early. And it was a rousing success. I told Judy that I had purchased something special for the cruise and had her close her eyes while I led her down the hallway. Opened the door, led her in and said "Merry Christmas"! Surprised her completely. Nice. I like doing that. Our first suite and an aft suite to boot. We're lost in it. So many drawers, closets, cubby holes, we have way too much room and not enough stuff. Its great. This will be a fun cruise. But I get ahead of myself. We followed our pre-cruise ritual. Repacking the suit cases, getting out the cleaning supplies, last minute shopping at Walgreens, answering some work emails (whoops, where did that come from!). A 10 minute van ride from the Hilton, 8 ships were in port including Allure with a load of travel agents, and we were dropping off our luggage at 11:10 AM. A brief wait in the Elite Lounge, then on to the desk, another brief wait at the top of the escalator and we were on the ship by noon. Pretty painless for sure. Since we've never been on the Emerald before we went exploring. Crown Grill is gorgeous. The wheelhouse more like the Coral and Island than the Grand. Explorers about the same. Club fusion a little more classier than our trip on the CP. Our other pre-cruise ritual is burger, fries, pizza, a cold long island iced tea and other adult beverages. Nice, satisfying, decompressing and relaxing. Luggage arrived by the time we got back to the cabin, around 2pm. Unpacking was easy with all this room. Then we settled in to await muster drill. Caught a 2 minute cat nap. Muster was almost the same, except for the scanning of the cruise cards with a new handheld scanner. New way to do a quick roll call I guess. Me on board, judy on board, check. Surprise a success. Check. Luggage arrived. Check. Time to chill. Menu tonight was Sailaway. Pretty much the same menu, but we didn't make it to the dining room. Opted for a quick dance to Phoenix Rising in the Wheelhouse, the Welcome show in the theatre, a quick snack at the HC and then to bed early. Time to catch up on some sleep. Highlights of the cruise from the first patter that everyone wants to know: Formal nights are 2nd day at sea and last day at sea prior to Princess Cays. Comedians are Billy Vader, John Mendoza and Rollin Jay Moore. Comedy magician is Justin Flom. Cruise Director is Tim Donovan, and Benji, from AUS, is his senior. There is NFL on MUTS, Sunday and Monday night. Despicable Me, Sorcerer's Apprentice, Salt, Inception, Other Guys, Dinner for Schmucks and Get Low are headline movies at night. Production shows are Boogie Shoes, I Got the Music, Motor City, What a Swell Party and Beatlemaniacs. They will have Princess Popstar, London Pub Night, Country and Western night, 50's and 60's night and 70's disco night. Captain is Giorgio Pomata, Maitre De is Nicola Furian. Ship's clocks go ahead 1 hour on the first night. Anyway, that's all for now. Starting to nod off. As always, ask questions and I'll try and get the answers. See ya! 11-29-10 At Sea: The suite is pretty incredible. We've walked through them before, but never thought we'd actually stay in one. The suite is basically two rooms wide. The diagrams on the Princess website don't do it justice. It's much roomier and has a much larger feel than the diagrams show. The refrigerator is bigger than a normal room as well. We could really get used to the suite life. Plenty of storage room, plenty of room in the bathrooms, the Jacuzzi tub even comes with bath salts. The shower doesn't have that loving shower curtain either! The balcony actually has two beams. One 18" beam near the port side that forms a little nook and protrudes into the balcony area. The second is a full beam that is about ¼ of the way from the starboard side and is pretty much centered in the balcony area. This makes the balcony a bit crowded since we have two full loungers, an end table, a round dining table and three dining chairs. There are two sliding doors into the balcony, one from the bedroom side of the suite and one from the living room side of the suite. One note of import is that the sliding doors can and will slam shut, engaging the lock enough to basically lock you out on the balcony. Happened to us during our power nap today. Aft cabins have almost zero wind on their balconies and it makes for a nice shaded, comfortable space with the sound of the wake providing the perfect white noise. I forget exactly what I was dreaming about, but it was pretty good when the door slammed shut. Good thing the other door was still unlocked, otherwise we would have been doing some interesting gymnastics. Slept pretty good last night. Judy has to have the head of the bed raised for her Acid Reflux, so Carlos, our room steward, suggested using the life jackets. Great Idea! All three against the wall under the mattresses along with the round thingies raise the head almost perfectly. The added egg crate helps soften the bed a bit, and the extra pillows are a nice touch. It's not a sleep number bed, but it will do quite nicely. The perks are already spoiling us. Breakfast at Sabbatini's was wonderful. I didn't know whether to eat it or take a picture of it. (But I forgot the camera and I really don't like to waste food, so it's all gone now.) It was a beautiful, perfectly cooked poached egg in a glass brandy snifter type dish on top of rosemary hash browns (diced, not shredded) accompanied by a grilled ham steak. A latte, a cappuccino, orange juice, toast, wonderful marmalade, constant attention by a wonderfully smiling waitress, quiet, no mess, no fuss, no pushing, no clanking of dishes, no noise. This was great. Speaking of Sabbatini's, and having been on all three Fincanteri Grands and the Caribbean Princess, I must admit I really like the layout of the Emerald. Sabbatini's is on Deck 15 aft, next to Adagio's and overlooking the back of the ship with nice views. No more watching people walk by on the Promenade. The light colored woods, the tile floors, the richly colored carpet just create a feel of a location that exudes luxury. We will be back for more breakfasts for sure. The dEcor is simply breathtaking around the entire ship. We walked through Crown Grill and it is more beautiful than the new Crown Grill on the Golden, and that was absolutely stunning. The dark woods make for an intimate setting that we will be visiting for dinner tonight. We really like the Club Fusion concept over the Vista Lounge. It's just a more exciting vibe. The Wheelhouse is larger and very similar to the layout on the Island and the Coral. A much better setting and layout than the Wheelhouse on the three Fincanteri Grands. The CC meet and greet was a great success in Skywalkers today. Tim Donovan showed up. We've sailed with Tim twice before. Our Grand cruise with him in April 2009 is still in our top 3 cruises of all time. This cruise holds much promise as well. Billy Vader was very funny last night during the welcome aboard show, Rollin Jay Moore will have an adult comedy night and there are only 31 minors on board. Only 5 teenagers. YEAH! Our ballroom class held a special surprise. The Emerald has two dedicated ballroom instructors Ken and Merrily Knepper. We were apprehensive when we heard we would have "professional" ballroom instructors until Merrily said - ' the first rule is to have fun'. They are a wonderful couple and they attend the dance bands at night as well. Unlike the cruise staff or the entertainment dancers, who have other duties and responsibilities, these two can interact with us at night as well. This could prove very fun indeed. Later on the 29th... Tim is proving to be a very good CD. Lots of entertainment choices, lots of dance venues, and pretty good comedians. Billy Vader last night was good. Justin Flom, comedian/magician was pretty good as well. His card tricks to music was a completely different take on close up magic and highly entertaining. We still, even though we watched carefully, figure out the flying table trick. It's very good. I really don't like the layout of the new Patter. Entertainment choices were pretty easy to find, but in the new Patter you have to read the details. The old patter had the info several different ways, the most important, to me, was venue by venue. Now the time tables are where all the information is, although little boxed blurbs, like pop up ads, are around the perimeter and provide some additional information. I do like the guides on the back. There were several dance venues tonight, the Wheelhouse with Phoenix Rising, the orchestra in Explorer's, canned music in fusion and in Skywalkers. Skywalker's remains the last indoor dance venue with smoking allowed and even with the smoking section over on one side far away from the dance venue, Judy could not be in there more than 5 minutes. Oh well. We saw "What a Swell Party". A new, for us, production show. Kind of ok until the last 10 minutes and then the choreography and the dancing really picked up and went well. We got there 30 minutes early and barely got a seat in the front rows. Overall entertainment is far better than our last cruise on the Star. In fact, one of our tests is whether or not we have time to do it all. If we don't, then it's a pretty good cruise. As before when we sailed with Tim, he's packed the schedule with all kinds of activities and we just can't seem to do it all. But the highlight of the evening was dinner at the Crown Grill. Judy had the shrimp with Pancetta bisque, which was quite good. I had the scallops and fau gras appetizer. I had to try the fau gras again, and I still don't care for it. Must be an acquired taste. I had the grilled salad and it was very good. For the main course I had the rack of lamb and Judy had the filet. As usual, her filet was perfect. My rack was great, really really good, until I put their new mint sauce on it and it went to fantastic. The new mint sauce has just a hint of a mild vinegar and it really sent the lamb over the top. For dessert we both had the apple berry cobbler with ice cream. Wonderful. Very tasty. Well worth the $50 cover charge. Well its been a full day at sea, a full night of fun, food and entertainment, and now its 0100 in the morning and time to hit the sack. Night all... 11-30-10 At Sea: Boy was it hard to get up this morning. Still getting used to the bed and pillows, and our normal bedtime is 8pm at home. Staying up till 1am is just not our normal style. Slept with the balcony door open. Fresh air, the sounds of the ocean, it just doesn't get any better than that. Temperatures have been perfect. 70's to 80's. Nice breeze, not too hot, not too cold. Very comfortable. The A/C works quite well in our suite. On cold, it would freeze us out. Sabbatini's was our breakfast stop. Their poached eggs are simply perfect. The eggs benedict just absolutely wonderful. Judy had the Belgium waffle with real maple syrup and real whipped cream and fresh strawberries and real butter. Latte's, mocha's and cappacino's are included in the breakfast. Wonderful service, personable and impeccable, with that touch of elegance that really makes you feel special. A very nice start to the day. We were treated to a tour of the Thermal suite in preparation for using it tomorrow while everyone gets off in St Kitts. I think a nice swim followed by a visit to the thermal suite is in order. There are five of the heated stone benches, a "dry" sauna, a steam bath and an aromatherapy steam room. Unlike the ones near the front pool, these are coed, so I don't have to do this on my own. Never been in a steam room before, only saw them in movies. They also have the Rasul couples room, not included in the suite perks. We will try the steam rooms first. The couples room may have to wait until the next cruise, or the one after that! Foxtrot was the dance in ballroom class today. Ken and Merrily are very nice teachers. Funny, not too serious and they want to make sure everyone has a good time. A good turnout. Basic forward, quarter turn, promenade and swing step were the four steps taught today. As I always say, guys, you can buy them diamonds and you can take them to the dinner, but if you really want to make your wife smile, take her dancing. I guarantee you will make her very happy... The patter is absolutely chock a block full of stuff to do today. Movies constantly on MUTS. Trivia, different trivia like majority rules and cruise long speed trivia, every couple of hours, crochet, shuffle board, napkin folding, line dance, ceramics, lectures, Texas Hold Em tournament, culinary demo, pub lunch in the wheelhouse, pool games, bridge, golf, jewelry sale, clearance sale in the dining room, bingo, just a lot of stuff going on. The crowds. Yes, the super grands have the extra deck and yes the corridors get very busy. It's not helped by the photographers that block areas on formal night either. Venues fill up rapidly. At peak times the Promenade deck is stuffed with people. But it's only temporary. Fincanteri and Princess did an excellent job in laying out the Emerald and her sisters, the Crown and Ruby. Some crowding is to be expected on any ship at peak times, they key is to make sure its not crowded all the time. Things calm down after a while when everyone finds their own little nook and there are a lot of them on the ship. Overall, its really not that bad. Lunch was at Vines, and yes, you have to buy a beverage to get free sushi or Tapas. Not bad stuff. We did a white flight while Judy stocked up on sushi for lunch. Line dancing was fun in the Piazza, but way too many people and too little room. Miko was sick yesterday, but was back today to teach a couple of line dances. They also had an acrobat in the Piazza the last couple of days and we caught her show waiting for line dancing. Li Liu does some amazing things while balancing 6 spinning plates on sticks, 3 in each hand. This was our first night in the dining room. As a suite guest, you call up the dine line, or wait until they call you, make your request, any time, any type of table, and then just show up. We walked up to the desk and was immediately seated. Dinner was the Caribbean menu tonight. Pretty good stuff, although the Fettuccini Alfredo is not up to Judy's standards. She was spoiled on the Golden last year with some fantastic fettuccine and she's been searching for its equivalent every since - this had good flavor, just not as good and not sauced as well as it should - some of the pasta was dry. The highlight for Judy was the split pea soup. The highlight for me were the lamb shanks and the shrimp and scallop appetizer. Yeah, I know, I had lamb last night at Crown Grill, but I just couldn't pass up lamb shanks. And it was really good. Melt in your mouth fall off the bone tender. The lentils, potatoes and roasted eggplant that came with it were also great in the stew/sauce that the lamb was cooked in. Not gamey at all. A real highlight of the meal. After dinner, things get real busy. 7:30 starts ballroom dancing in explorer's with the orchestra, then 8:30 is a comedian in the theatre, dancing starts back up at 9:15, then the 50's sock hop at 9:45, a repeat of the comedian at 10:30, with Justin Flom back in explorers at 8:30 and 10:30. A real packed schedule for sure. So after careful consideration we did the dancing in explorer's to the Emerald Princess Orchestra - this is a great band. The other night they were playing a rhumba and mixed in the theme to the brady bunch as part of the song. We also Cha Chaed to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. A band with a great musical attitude for sure. Then we did the sock hop in Club Fusion. That was fun. Good music with Icon, we have three great dance bands - Phoenix Rising and Icon, along with the Orchestra - and Fusion has the largest dance floor on the ship. They had the Elvis contest, hand jive, several swings, the twist. If you would like to dress up, just bring your poodle skirt, leather jacket or letterman's sweater and you can fit right in. After 50's night we hustled up to the 1030 comedian's show. John Mendoza. He's a crowd interaction comedian and with the 1030 crowd it was slow. BTW, the 1030 show was not full at all. The 830one was SRO, but if you wait until the 1030 show, you are good to go for the most part. John had some good bits, some good lines and interactions with the audience. Not a total flop. 12-1-10 St Kitts: This morning we awoke early - yelling, thrusting, bumping, grinding-because of the docking at St Kitts. The Grand was right behind us. So it was up to Sabattinis for breakfast. This is a really nice suite perk and a good example of how Princess keeps changing to add more value for their cruisers. They didn't have to do this. Suites sell very well on all ships. That's why the suite upgrade is so rare. But having a nice quiet place to have breakfast is just so cool! We've had great service so far. From Sabbatini's to the Crown Grill, to the cruise staff to the bar staff to Carlos our room steward. Everyone has been great! I find that passengers, for the most part, are far more obnoxious and rude than any crew member I have ever met. I ran into my first chair poacher today. I understand the issue with chair hogs, but why do people feel that because you aren't actually laying in the chair at the time they show up, they can just move your shoes, robe, cruise card and towel to another lounger while you are in the hot tub 10 feet away. Sort of ranks up there with the starving people waiting impatiently in the anytime dining line rushing the opening of the door like zombies in Left for Dead swarming a car whose alarm has just gone off! Well, you just had to be there… I found out today I am not a thermal suite kind of guy. Good thing I didn't have to pay for it! We did our 16 times around the jogging track up on Deck 19. Yep, there is a deck 19 with the track, the miniature golf course and the sports court and the view from up there is not to be missed. Great photo spot. Then we did the swim against the current pool - it is not part of the Sanctuary on the Emerald, then a hot tub - during which my lounge chair got poached - so we tried out the thermal suites. Comfortably ensconced on the stone chair, actually tile, I anxiously awaited nirvana, and waited, and waited. After about 10 minutes I asked Judy when I could expect the ethereal plane of existence to open up and elevate my consciousness. I got shushed. After 15 minutes she grudgingly led me into the aromatherapy room where I began to sweat tremendously, but she assured me it was fragrant sweat and it was good for me. She began taking deep breaths, then coughing, claiming it "was a good cough". I was having none of the deep breathing this liquid air so I held on for a few more minutes while the sweat began pouring off of me, the ceiling started dripping hot water on me, the walls began closing in and I couldn't hardly breathe. Nope, not for me. So let's try the "dry" heat sauna. At least it was cooler until I sat down! Holy smokes! You could have cooked an egg on the heated benches. Geez, I wanted relaxation, not being cooked like a turkey in an oven! At that point it was abandon ship and back to the air conditioning of the suite and a nice cool shower. Much better. But now I know where to go heat up leftovers after dinner! We tried the HC for lunch. Not very much variety on the menu, and plastic wrapped sandwiches. I've noticed a substantial reduction in lunch choices, especially on port days, over the past couple of years. It's not a really bad thing. You won't go hungry, but I do miss the themed lunches that some ships put on. I tried watching dinner for schmucks in the Princess theater this afternoon. Just could not get past the painful writing to actually see the dinner. A nap sounded much more inviting and as it turned out, much more refreshing for sure. We got notice last night we are in on Friday's chef's table. Hoorah! Typically the culinary highlight of the cruise. Can't wait. Tonight is a full night with Captain's Circle, over 2000 members on board, in Club Fusion at 730, country night at 930, and London Pub Night at 1045. We won't make it to the Motor City production show tonight - it's one of our favorites and I hope they repeat it later. MUTS, as I've said before, is being far better utilized than our last cruise. The wake show in the morning, then 3-4 movies until the featured movie in the evening. Princess commercials in between showing, which at least are better than blank screens or those screensavers we watched on the star over and over and over again in February. Once again I can't say enough about how Tim is running the entertainment on this ship compared to the last ship. Like night and day. We actually got bored on the Star for several nights. We're now back to not being able to do it all and that's the way we like it. Three good dance bands, good dance venues, and no hour long canned music "Ballroom" dancing programs yet. Fusion and Skywalkers is canned music, but its good quality DJed music, not simply stick in the CD and hit play. Dinner was a Princess dinner that featured one of my favorites Coq Au Vin - chicken in a heavy burgundy wine sauce. We started by sharing the braised oxtail over rotelle pasta. MMMM good. Judy has the grilled calamari sans the fennel salad. I had the hearty black bean chowder. The calamari was very good and the baby squid on the plate was even better than the steaks. The chowder was just ok. Not my favorite. Judy ordered the Grilled Beef Fillets and I ordered the Coq Au Vin. Her beef was perfectly cooked and tasty, my Coq Au Vin, while not the best I've ever had on a ship, was pretty tasty. Dark meat would have been better, but the chicken was moist and tender. Because Captain's Circle was held on a non-formal night, we decided to go and score some free drinks. Ok, some free flavored ice water. No new news on the new ships. No tidbits of information. Most traveled passengers were all over 700 days at sea. Over 2000 CC members with 190+ elites. Ah well there goes our invite to the most travelled party. After Captain's Circle, we danced at the country and western show. The crowd started small, Motor City must attracted a big audience, but picked up. Line dances, some slow dances, the bang, bang game, but no tush push. Darn! BTW, it was pick on Aleesia night, one of the cruise staff. She also ended up being the target on London Pub Night. London pub night was a hoot. Tim throws one of the best London pub nights with lots of audience participation, edgy humor, old corny jokes, skits and the like, but still a lot of fun. With over 60% of the audience probably already seeing a pub night, they do need to start changing it up a bit to keep it fresh. Although the golfer was new to us, it's usually a tennis player. They also had drink specials in fusion. $2.99 for Singapore slings, Long Islands, some beers and other drinks. So we stocked up, watched the show, staggered back to the room and hit the sack. Another great day of cruising… 12-02-10 Barbados: One of the nicest ports on our itinerary. We might get off for a little while, but nothing fancy. Judy is having her sushi massage, the seaweed wrap massage, this morning so I am catching up on the travel log, downloading email and chilling out waiting for her. Connections via Cisco VPN have been surprisingly good. Using a laptop to compose the travel log offline and then just uploading it has saved a bunch of log on time. Today was actually one of those catch up on our sleep days. It was a bit choppy last night which caused several balcony doors on the aft end, apparently we aren't the only ones who sleep with the door open, to slam open or shut. That happened several times after midnight and each time it brought me full awake as in geez did we hit a deer? Needless to say when Judy left for her massage appointment, I just stayed in bed and went back to sleep. Hey, I'm on vacation! We caught bits of MUTs this afternoon, Sherlock Holmes, but the sound was just not right. Other than that we simply took the entire day off… Dinner was the cosmopolitan menu. I had the crabmeat appetizer, it was just ok, not a ceviche, but with extra lemon squeezed on it wasn't half bad. Judy had the shrimp cocktail. Those shrimps are getting smaller all the time, but still tasty. We both had the salad. She has the Dutch Pork Ribs, I had the leg of lamb. Yes lamb once again. It was really good. Actually really, really good. Judy liked her Dutch Pork Ribs, but I felt they needed some kind of sauce to tie them all together. They were very tender. For dessert, it was Cherries Jubilee with ice cream. That was excellent, as usual. We have a regular table set up by the Head Waiter in the Micheangelo dining room. A table for two in a quiet corner with Armen from the Phillipines - can't spell or pronounce his partners name yet. Service is simply outstanding. After dinner it was time for a canned music ballroom session in Club fusion. The music selection was actually really good. It was DJed properly with good volume, no repeats on the music and the Club Fusion dance floor is great. We had a good turnout with several couples. Then we went to see a concert show. The Beatlemaniacs. If you like the beatles, you will like this group. They basically look and dress like the Beatles and play about 50 minutes worth of songs. I liked the music a lot and Judy is a Beatle's fan. I guess my only disappointment was that some of the music was canned, so it was hard to tell what was live and what was Memorex. I know for a fact the horns were canned, it's a 4 piece band after all, and some of the guitars. I'm pretty sure the drums and the singing was live. It was a fun time and lots of people loved it. With the aforementioned caveat, I recommend it as well. After the concert, it was Island Party night and a great time was had by all. Tim scores again with a great deck party. My dogs are barking for sure. Basically we danced for about 90 minutes. A couple of slow songs, couple of merengues, electric slide, conga line, dollar dance, hooki lau, Macarena and a couple more I can't remember. We grabbed a Fosters, two glasses and headed back to the room to decompress. Another great day… 12-03-10 St Lucia: Another restless night. Even the can of Fosters didn't help. The Deck Party was so energetic, the adrenaline kept flowing until early in the morning. That's the sign of great party. Lt Lucia is a beautiful island. We've been here several times and just chose to go Christmas shopping for the grandkids. Some Del Sol color changing nail polish should keep any teenage girl happy. Breakfast was at Sabbatinis again. Judy doesn't every want to go back to the buffet. Can't say I blame her. Breakfast is cooked ala minuet and to order. My omelet was nice and spicy with fresh jalapenos. Judy went with the waffle. Three mochas later and we're ready to roll. Shopping was quick and painless. I don't like to linger. Get in, get out. After shopping it was time to burn some more calories. We set up Judy's Itouch in Club Fusion with her portable set of speakers and danced around for about an hour. The dance floor in Club Fusion is the biggest and the best of the dance floors around the ship. We tried to get a seat in the shade at MUTS this afternoon. That didn't work out well. Chef's Table was the highlight for the evening. We met at 7pm with the matre de, and started our 13 course menu in the kitchen. The crab and lobster margarita with a very good champagne, followed by a Salmon tartare, a mini fontini cheese tart and a roasted potatoe with sour cream and caviar. Of the four, the cheese tart was the highlight and matched perfectly with the champagne. Seating was in Micheangelo on deck 5. Beautiful table settings, with fresh baked breads. Love the baked goods on the ship. Most of the main dishes we've never had before. Instead of risotto, we had Linguini Alla Vengole, a linguini pasta with clams and tomatoes in a wine sauce. Absolutely the best starter we've ever had. Blew always all of the past risottos, which we've always thought to be fantastic. The palette cleanser was a lemon sorbet with a little mango and grey goose. Very good, but not as good a the spicy bloody mary sorbet with cracked pepper and grey goose we've had before. For the main course, the chef simply brought out the entire kitchen. Huge lobster tails, diver scallops, filet mignon and lamb chops with a warm artichoke salad, roasted potatoes and several choices of sauces. We've always had flambeed veal and/or beef before, nothing like this feast. It was pretty incredible. The cheese course was baked camembert cheese with pine nuts, a port wine reduction, walnut bread a date/fig concoction. This was served with the dessert wine of course. A forkful of the cheese, the port and the date/fig followed by a bit of wine was pure heaven on the taste buds. A very good lemon cello was offered at this point as well. It was much better than the lemon cello I've had before. Sweeter and not nearly as bitter. Dessert itself was a chocolate ganache in a beer dough fritter, a French vanilla and honey ice cream over a praline. Coffee and several selections of bon bons and petti-fors followed. The strawberries dipped in white chocolate were especially good. 1 Champagne, 1 white, 1 red, 1 dessert and a lemon cello made up the drinks offered. Not being a wine kind of person I can't tell you what they were except pretty darn good. The white was much better for us, the red very robust, but my favorite is always the dessert wine. The linguini and the cheese course were the standouts of this meal. These two dishes were better than anything in our previous Chef's table. They were absolutely fantabulous. That's not to say that the other courses were bad or not very good, they were all excellent and easily were better than anything we've had since our last Chef's table, but the two stood out above all the rest. We got done with dinner about 10pm and headed to the production show I got the music. I can honestly say I didn't see that much of the show. The wine, the champagne and the lemon cello decided to knock me over the head about 15 minutes into the show and it was such a lovely little nap too. Needless to say, I can't really tell you whether the show was good or bad. 12-04-10 Antigua: The days start to blur together - which is a good thing since this is a vacation. As usual breakfast was in Sabbatini's, but a much lighter affair after a meal at Chef's table. We've never been to Antigua before, so it was time to get off and do a little sightseeing and shopping. Nothing big, just looking around the port area and picking up a few things. Oceania was in port next door. Ocean Princess, before she was transferred to P&O. The 4th of the sun class ships (Sun, Dawn, Sea and Ocean). Our very first cruise ship in June 2001 Seward to Vancouver. Our first introduction to cruising. It looked like she's been upgraded. The bridge wings are now enclosed, not open. Looking at the balcony cabins on the decks brings back a lot of memories. Nice thing about the Sun class, except for location, the size of the opening of the balcony in the outer hull and a few quad cabins here and there, the balcony cabins were all identical in layout, the aft suites the largest and nicest in the fleet and the mini-suites were what are on most ships full suites. After getting back on board we decided to get in some exercise and did a couple of miles around the promenade. Some more differences between the Emerald and the Grands. No Emerald deck balcony cabins on the promenade at the top of the stairs. Looked like all outside view cabins with portholes. We have checked out the gym. The treads and elliptical are all Precor with individual TVs. Bring your earbuds. It was Italian Night in the dining room. One of our favorite nights. The eggplant parmesan was very good. So good I had two. Most eggplant parmesans on land have breaded and fried eggplant, which is the correct recipe, but they grill or saute the eggplant on Princess, not deep fried. I like this a lot more. Then straight to the Veal Scaloppini. Which was very good as well. Topped off with several Lemoncello's, it was a pretty tasty meal. Judy had a salad and the spaghetti and meatballs, which she said was pretty good as well. No dessert for her, but I had the Tiramisu, which was very well done. After dinner we did the dancing to the orchestra in Explorer's. Unlike the Star in February, Gordon, the band leader, did a really good job of picking a good variety of tunes. Ever Rhumba'ed to White Christmas? We now have. The orchestra is very good and another example of how the entertainment on this cruise is really, really good. After dancing we sat through Rollin Jay Moore's comedy act. We've seen Jay on three previous cruises, but when he's on, he's on and he did a really good job and had some new material. He throws so much at you, some of it has to stick and make you laugh. His adult show is tomorrow night and we have to try and stay up to see it. After that it was bedtime. We needed to get up at 0600 to get the day started. 12-05-10 St Thomas: Using an alarm clock on a cruise ship, I believe is sacrilege. Oh well, the price we pay. Today would be our sole planned excursion on Treazzure out of Red Hook at 9am. We've never done this before and we were both looking forward to a semi-private, only 6 people, snorkeling and lunch trip. Treazzure is a 65' sailing yacht. Beautiful with plenty of shade, downstairs cabins available for use and Jack the black cat that runs the boat. Danielle and Joe do a really good job. We met Joe at the flagpole behind the burrito place at the American Yacht harbor. He zodiaked six of us to the boat and we took off for St John's. Danielle served mimosas, fruit, fruit juices and coffee cake. We stopped at the first snorkeling spot and the water was absolutely the perfect temperature for snorkeling. I like snorkeling in St Thomas. The water is clear, the fish are large and plentiful, and the sites are gorgeous. I got great shots of a 20# mullet running with a bunch of yellow tail fish. Brain coral, fan coral, sea urchins, lots of little colored fish dotted the reef area. After snorkeling for 90 minutes we had a great lunch, a chicken wrap and a Caesar salad, with some "painkillers", which were very refreshing. We headed for the second snorkeling spot off one of the resort beaches on St John to see turtles and stingrays. We saw several turtles and one stingray with lots of fish. I got some great underwater shots of all the above. We then set the sail and glided back to red hook. The Treazzure is a great day sail to St John. I would highly recommend them except for one caveat, the time factor. We arrived back at Red Hook at 3:15 with all aboard at 4:30. We just barely made it. One car accident on the road out of Red Hook and we would have been toast. It would be a great day sail if you were staying on the island. To get the two snorkels locations in, with lunch and sail time takes a minimum of 6 hours which cuts it too close for the ship's departure. But others may be more adventurous. If so, I highly recommend them. The only other issues is that Judy's motion sickness kicked into high gear during the first snorkel, the sail home and the ride home in the taxi. Had to resort to high powered anti-nausea drugs which knocked her down for the rest of the evening. Which was a shame since tonight was Disco night and we do like to hustle. Oh well, you just can't do it all. Dinner was Chef's Dinner. First of all it appears that Princess scored a major buy of Rosemary and Thyme. It's everywhere! On the hash browns in Sabbatinis, to at least one dish on every menu. I really like rosemary and use it a lot, especially on chickens and turkeys and the hash browns are really good in Sabbatinis, but Judy doesn't like it nearly as much. It is a very strong flavor. Tonight the menu included Strawberry and thyme infused sorbet. It did not work. Tasted like sorbet with a hint of Nyquil. On the other hand the twice baked Goat Cheese souffle with Garlic Sabayon was very good. Garlic and cheese? How could that go wrong? I also had the French Onion soup, which I've always liked. Hey, there was a table of French people next door and they slurped it all up as well! And of course I ordered the lamb and yes it came with a sprig of rosemary, and it was the 4th lamb dish I've had this cruise, but I can't help myself. They really do lamb well on Princess and this was no exception - even with the rosemary! (Judy ordered the mushroom soup and the southern fried chicken but her taste buds were totally off and she was falling asleep in her plate. But she liked both dishes and I tried the chicken and found it well seasoned, crispy and very moist.) Dessert was a Menage a Trois of a raspberry pana cotta, mmmm good, a Tiny Gateau Opera (Layered cake that also very ummmy), and a honey-hazelnut semifreddo with a nutella twist (frozen stuff outside, frozen nutella ice cream inside, chocolate garnish - very good). Tonight we will miss Disco night in Fusion, Billy Vader on stage, Rollin Jay Moore at midnight with his adult show and late night disco dancing, but I'm going to put her to bed early for the night. Tomorrow is a sea day, then Princess Cays and then my favorite day of a cruise, turnaround day as an in-transit passenger! More tomorrow! 12-06-10 At Sea Headed to Princess Cays: Judy got a good solid 10 hours of sleep last night and feels much better this morning. Breakfast was, again, at Sabbatini’s. We just enjoy the peace and quiet and unhurried nature, along with excellent food and service. The poached eggs continue to be cooked perfectly and the egg’s benedict just simply wonderful. For lunch we decided to utilize another suite perk. Ordering off the lunch menu and having it on our balcony. The weather on this cruise has been perfect. Hardly ever over 80 and today the sea state is nill, the back balcony in shade, a slight breeze with temps in the upper 70’s. A perfect day to have lunch on the balcony and survey the view out over the sea. Tonight is a formal night and we really don’t feel like dressing up, so we might just order lobster dinner on the balcony. One thing I forgot to mention is all the fresh fruit baskets we get in a suite. With Grapes! Wonderful, juicy, delicious grapes! Strawberries, pears, apples, kiwis and bananas. On formal nights we get the chocolate dipped strawberries as well. Instead of dinner we tried out the Elite Lounge in Skywalkers. Munchies and drinks. A lot better attended than past lounges we’ve been to, but no real drink specials except for wine. I think we’ve reached food saturation. Lobster just didn’t sound good. Actually nothing on the menu sounded good. We went to see Etienne in the Piazza. We’ve seen his full show before on other cruises, but the Piazza is much more up close and personal. We like the little vignettes in the Piazza. They enhance the atmosphere and really do give it that “on the street” feel. We danced to Icon in Explorer’s for a while and then went to see Boogie Shoes. Parts of it were great, parts of it were “Huh?” The singers and dancers were all great, but the writing and song selection was just a little off for me. The pole dancing cowboys were a great switch, the opening sequence one of the best for us, but the clown and big feet sequence was just out of place and the “Let’s Get Physical” costumes and choreography, along with the transition to chearleaders was just over my head. Besides, where was “Footloose”? Maybe I just don’t get it. We miss Caliente and some of the other shows from years past. After the show, it was bedtime… 12-07-10 Princess Cays: Determined to work off some of these calories, we had a light breakfast in Sabbatini’s and then headed to Deck 19 to walk a couple of miles. It’s also a great place to see the sights around Princess Cays. The seas were a bit on the rough side, so we decided not the chance it given Judy’s last bought with motion sickness. Tendering is not the best place to be when sea sick. Hopefully, on the next leg, actually on Thursday this week, the seas will be smoother and we can get off and hike around. Although a lot of people will say the new “super grands” (Emerald, Crown and Ruby) got the extra deck with no additional public space, that’s not entirely true. The top of skywalkers, where the golf course, walking track and sports court are, is a good example as well as moving Sabbatini’s to Deck 16 and creating Adagio alongside. As an engineer I appreciate the little things they incorporated into the Emerald design as part of lessons learned from the Grands. The automatic doors into the HC from the pool area can create a hurricane into the HC when they open. On the Emerald they created a right angle vestibule with two automatic doors that prevents that hurricane from blowing stuff all around the entrance to the HC. The shuffle board courts are actually on little used wings off the staircases to the exterior of the sports court. They did eliminate corridor space to create more people space. Crooner’s takes up the entire half of the 7th deck port side. You have to walk through crooners on the port side to get forward or aft, whereas on the Grands there is a walkway on both sides of the atrium and crooners is much small on the starboard side. The two corridors around the Sterling Steakhouse or desert rose, on the port and starboard sides, now had the Wheelhouse bar taking up space that was the port side hallway. This does create a lot of traffic jams. Especially when they set up the cameras for portraits and take up half the existing walkway and then the theatre lets out. But actually for an extra deck of people it’s not nearly as bad as one might think it could be. This gives me hope that the new ships may not be as bad as people might fear. We will have to try them at least once for sure. At one time I swore off the Grands and would never have considered stepping foot on a super grand, but now, it’s just not that bad. So we did the Deck 19 walk and picture taking. Judy then took off to use the stone loungers in the Thermal Suite while I did another 2 miles on the elliptical in the gym while watching Travel Channel. After that it was an invigorating swim against the current in the lotus pool, which is kept quite cool and then a muscle relaxing soak in the hot tub and a quick viewing of the ending of the A-Team at MUTS. After that, it was time for lunch, a shower and a power nap. Power naps are an essential part of cruise travel. For dinner we ordered in-suite from the dinner menu, which was the Landfall menu. The temperature has dropped to below 70F, so it was a little brisk on the balcony, but with an aft balcony there is not much wind. A side balcony would have been unusable. We ordered a light dinner, Linguine Pasta with Littleneck Clams (this was really good), shrimp cocktail (pretty standard), Poached Seafood and Avocado (with mussel, lobster claw meat, calamari, shrimp and scallops – really, really good) with a grilled vegetable and heart of Romaine salad with balsamic vinaigrette (really good with grilled eggplant, grilled asparagus, grilled tomatoe and grilled zucchini). The sun had already set so it was a little on the dark side, which really enhanced the mood. With the wake in the background, clouds in the sky, stars starting to shine, it was an excellent dinner! After dinner it was back to the dance floor for the ballroom blitz review in Club Fusion. CD music, but pretty good for 90 minutes. Several couples along with Ken and Merrily, the dance instructors, showed up to enjoy the large dance floor. 9PM was farewell showtime and it was only one showing and no way to get a seat 30 minutes prior to the show. It was packed, so we dance instead to Icon at Explorer’s. Just for the heck of it we went to Princess Pop Star finals in Fusion. It was a lot of fun and had some good singers. I did find out something important, Fusion has a power hour from 8PM till close. All house spirits are $2.99, Pina Coladas, Singapore Slings and Long Islands are $2.99, Dos Equis, Becks, MGD and Miller Lites are also $2.99. Good thing we got 10 more days. Now we know where to go drinking at night. Back in the room we find something we’ve never had before. An In Transit Patter! Kind of cool. Since Princess is now selling B2B’s as one cruise, it makes sense that more people would be in transit than ever before. Time turns back 1 hour tonight, then will probably turn forward again tomorrow night. Later as we turn and burn for another go around! 12-08-10 Fort Lauderdale: Turn around day. Sabatini’s is not open, but room service delivers to Suites. So we ordered intending to have breakfast on the balcony. Unfortunately, it was around 40F when we woke up, so breakfast would have to be inside for sure. Not much to do on turnaround day. 200+ of us showed up in the Michelangelo dining room at 1000AM to do the immigration shuffle. The interesting thing was that half of the people returning to the ship were not even checked, they were just sent back to the holding pen. Our papers were checked and we waited until about 11am to get back on. We then just watched movies until the sailaway party. Overall it was a smooth and painless process. This part of the cruise we intend to eat a lot on the balcony and in the HC/Café Caribe. A change from the dining room. So far the Pizza has been great and the burgers, dogs, chicken and brauts good as well. The fries are coated, like with wheat or batter, which makes them extra crunchy and tasty. Dinner was good in the HC, but no sailaway seafood buffet in Café Caribe. In fact, there was only one side of the HC open. So far all of the meals at the HC have been pretty good and tasty. We haven’t been there for breakfast, but Judy reports lunch is pretty good and tonights dinner was good as well. I just had the seafood pasta and scallop ceviche. Those were excellent. After dinner we decided to just do MUTS for the evening. It was actually cold, so we had to huddle under several blankets to keep warm, but it was kind of fun. We haven’t done that in quite a while. 12-09-10 Princess Cays: The water was almost glass when we awoke this morning, so we saddled up for Princess Cays – stopping at Sabatini’s for breakfast and doing a mile walk on the top of Skywalkers. We haven’t been at Princess Cays for over 4 years, right after a major hurricane and they have changed a lot. Lots of bungalows have been added, there were only 4 when we were here last, the Sanctuary, the little islands in the swim and snorkel area, all the shops, they’ve really done a great job and the place looks beautiful. As is our tradition, we beachcombed north this time about a mile, regretted not bringing our snorkel gear as there is a beautiful little cover about a mile north that is perfect snorkeling. So we turned around and headed back for lunch and a little sightseeing along the Cay. Lunch was a great. Burgers, dogs, chicken, ribs, slaw, salad, beans, cookies, brownies and lots of fresh fruit. Really enjoyed it. The tender ride was flat calm on the way back and the Emerald is just an absolutely stunning ship sitting at anchor. I’ve seen the Pug Nosed NCL ships, the M class celebrity ships, the fun ships and the building on a hull RCL super ships, but there is just something elegant about a Princess ship. Fincanteri does a really good design job. Tonight was formal night and after doing 3 miles today, we really didn’t feel like dressing up. Dancing would not start until late, so we decided to go back to MUTS. Much warmer tonight for sure. Dinner at Café Caribe was pretty good. (Both sides of the HC were closed.) The beef tenderloin was excellent, the shrimp cocktail good, the bacon wrapped green beans a bit overdone, but the star was dessert. The key lime pie was great, the apple crumble fantastic and the pumpkin cheesecake good as well. We had a good laugh with the couple sitting next to us, they finished their salads and went back for their main course, upon which their table got cleaned off, so they switched to the next table over. You’ve all heard the joke, turned around and my plate was gone, turned around again and my wife was gone… As usual interaction with the crew is always fun for us. On this cruise it is Elena, one of the staff in Sabatini’s in the morning. Her husband is Emil in the HC and Café Caribe. So we found him in Café Caribe tonight and talked to him for a while. Elena is from Romania and her smile lights up the room. She sees us enter Sabatini’s and immediately starts on our two chocolate mocha lattes. We enjoy talking with and interacting with all of the staff. When we got to Princess Cays, last cruise’s Sabatini’s staff ended up serving the bungalows so we had to stop and say hello to Fabio and crew. Along with Carlos, our room steward, Michael, Aleesia, Miko, Emma and Alex from the cruise staff, we are just having a blast. Another great day cruising… 12-10-10 At Sea: A couple of things I forgot to mention yesterday. Ben Kitchen is the Assistant Cruise Director and we have sailed with him before on the Golden to Hawaii with David Cole. Ben’s a lot of fun as well and we like to give him a ribbing every now and then. The other thing is Etienne in the Piazza. He apparently has two different shows. We saw one last cruise and coming back from Princess Cays, he was on again with a different show. Instead of knives and a unicycle, it was a ladder, a kazoo and a tuba. Figure that one out. The Netflix answer is Maxwell’s Equations. He is extremely funny and a hoot to watch. We went through a storm early this morning, and BTW time went 1 hour ahead as well. Rain, blowing wind, not too much motion but a noticeable increase. The wind and motion was strong enough to cause us to close the door since it started squeaking and squawking. It started out a dreary day with overcast and rain. Nice and different for a change. I liked it! The sun broke out later in the day. As usual we went to Sabatini’s for breakfast. (I can’t emphasize how nice this perk is. Quiet, elegant, and unhurried.) Elena made us double shot Latte’s to start and I had a simple poached egg over rosemary potatoes with no hollandaise, and English muffin. Judy had the brioche French toast. The poached eggs were perfect and Judy enjoyed her French toast with no crispy eggs. She hates crispy eggs. For us the sign of a good cruise is that you can’t do it all. The sign of a really good cruise is that you can’t do it all in a B2B. We are trying, but will probably fail. We missed the Cruise Critic Meet and Greet after ball room dance class, the Waltz, because we got caught up in the martini demonstration. Sorry guys! We basically missed it! We saw all of the production shows and most of the comedians last cruise, so this time we can concentrate on MUTS, the new comedians, Jay Moore’s adult show and Disco night which we missed the first go around. After the martini demo, it was time to burn some more calories and Judy wanted to use the thermal suite. I went to the gym and did a couple of miles on the elliptical while Judy bettered her Nintendo DS scores while laying back and enjoying the stone loungers. She claims it focuses her mind. (All I could focus on was what the heck was I doing lying and sweating on a hot stone curved chair!) We fully intended to attend the pool games and the bar wars up on deck, or at least attend the snowfall in the piazza, but a nice mixed drink from the mini-bar, and a really comfortable lounger on the balcony got in the way. Oh Darn… We ordered dinner in-suite again off the dining room menu. They start delivery at 6pm and at 610 our dinner showed up. She spread the table cloth on the balcony table and I proceeded to serve. We ordered Penne Pasta with Mussels (Judy thought it was too fishy, mussels are stronger than clams, but I liked it – the cream sauce was wonderful), shrimp cocktail (as usual very tasty with lots of horseradish in the sauce), a salad for her with balsamic vinaigrette (which Judy pronounced very good), the chunky yellow split pea soup for me (it was ok, not one of my favorites). For the main course I had the Skirt Steak fajitas (nicely done, not anything to write home about, but a nice flavored dish and a welcome change from lamb) while Judy had the roasted cod spiked with Chorizo (she liked this a lot and I tasted it and like it as well). So there we are watching the sun set, the clouds go by, darkness settling in, we’d skipped lunch and were actually pretty hungry, the weather was warm, but not too hot, humid but not too humid, a cool drink, stars are starting to appear in the sky, good food, good company, the wake whispering in the background – it really doesn’t get any better than that - does it. As a counterpoint, I do have one complaint about the suite. The couch, which is a sleeper sofa, is about the most uncomfortable couch I have ever sat on. Trying to read a book whilst, love that word – ‘whilst in the tenders’, trying to get comfortable sitting up to read is basically impossible. Yeah I know, I’m getting a lot of sympathy at this point right? So after dinner we danced in Explorer’s to the orchestra. Gordon has left the ship, so no more dancing Rhumba to the Brady Bunch or Cha Chaing to Jingle Bells, but its still fun. We then hit the tail end of 50’s trivia in Club Fusion. Apparently, Michael and DJ Mark where having a really good time with the audience. Never heard a sing a long quite that lively during a trivia game. After the trivia game came 50’s and 60’s night. A little slow dancing, hand jive, swing. I did have to turn down Michael and Alex to join the twist competition. You see on our third cruise on the Island I got roped into being Tina Turner and have been emotionally scarred ever since…so I never accept any straws, cards, popsicle sticks, stickers or anything that looks like it has strings attached from the cruise staff during the theme nights. Its just safer that way. We had to leave the party a little early anyway to go see the Sorcerer’s Apprentice at MUTS. It was an ok movie, but Judy wanted to see it. She loves going to the movies. Temperature was perfect, no blankets needed and the sound on the ships with a purpose built MUTS, as opposed to the add-ons like the Star, Grand and Golden, is much much better. So to summarize a very, very successful day at Sea, I took my wife dancing, sent her off to a thermal spa, did a good workout, had a great power nap, served her a romantic dinner on the balcony overlooking the sea, danced some more and capped it off by taking her to the movies. This is why we cruise… 12-11-10 St Thomas: Wow déjà vu! Seems like we were just here. Oh we were! After yesterday today is pretty much anti-climactic. Not much happening around the ship and pretty much everyone got off to shop or play. The QMII was at Crown Bay so we had to dock at Havensite, right behind the Caribbean Princess. We did breakfast at Elena’s. I finally remembered to take a picture of the poached egg over potatoes before I ate it. After a good workout in the gym we lazed around the suite reading. Tonight would be a catch up night by seeing Billy Vader’s act, missed him last cruise, and Rollin Jay Moore’s late night adult act – which wouldn’t start until 1145PM. Lunch was at the HC with a couple that dances with us. I did try the tongue sandwich – nope, not my cup of tea for sure. The noodles were good, but it was pretty standard HC lunch fare. We sat and visited for over an hour watching float planes take off and land. After lunch it was enjoy the suite perk of a DVD movie. “Old Dogs”, a powernap and then enjoy sailaway from the aft balcony. We really enjoy these aft balconies. Dinner was in Café Caribe. It was ok. Pretty standard. The standouts were the butter fish, the carrot cake and the hazelnut chocolate cake. Once again the HC was closed and only Café Caribe was open. Tim Donovan has changed the lineup at night for this cruise and is having a lot more 7PM and 845PM shows rather than 830 and 1030. We went to Billy Vader’s show first. Billy sings, jokes, one liners, messes with the band and with the audience. It was a so-so performance until about halfway through. Billy decided to stand up on the furniture and Tim came out to get him down – and then the fun started. Billy played off Tim perfectly for about 20 minutes and it was hilarious. The highlight of the evening. After the show we went up to watch some of the movie that was playing “The Switch” with Jennifer Anniston. Where did all these people come from? It was a packed house. It had never been that packed for the previous shows or cruise. Not an empty seat anywhere to be found. Rollin Jay Moore’s late night adult comedy was very adult, as in really adult, but not filthy like in every other word. Unfortunately he had to revert to some of his material from the regular show to get on track. He never really connected and while some parts were funny, his normal show in explorer’s last week was better. After that it was definitely bed time… 12-12-10 Dominica: Thank goodness for 5 hour energy drinks. Between those and double expresso lattes to wake us up in the morning, we would be dragging all day long. We’ve never been here before so it was time to get off and explore, make a few purchases, see the sights. No organized tours or anything. Just walk around the place. It’s been hot and humid the last couple of days. Under the cover of the vendor market just off the dock, there was no breeze and it got pretty stifling after a while. The locals were out in force to greet us, but there were not very pushy. A simple no thanks was sufficient. Not like Jamaica. After rummaging about for a while we went back to the ship and used Club Fusion for dance practice. We needed to practice Waltz on a much larger floor. Tonight would be 80’s night, which we missed last cruise. They were supposed to work on our balcony today, but didn’t. After dancing we went up on deck to find some shade. That was unsuccessful, so we went back to our balcony, which was totally shaded and spent a very nice afternoon stretched out on a lounger reading a book. We opted for something totally different for dinner. A couple of glasses of wine, some sushi, some shrimp salad and greek salad from the IC, and we had a really nice light dinner in the corner of vines watching the sun go down and the ship sail out of Dominica. We had already seen the production shows, so we were free to do other things. We opted for dancing with Phoenix Rising in the wheelhouse for a while, then heading to Explorer’s lounge to see Princess Peer Factor. A show we’ve never seen before and it wasn’t trivia. (Peer factor is basically two teams of 2 men and 2 women each competing against each other. The first two women had to make a pizza, judged by one of the Pizza chefs. The first two guys had to put on boxer shorts, over their clothes, while wearing boxing gloves. The one with the most shorts won. The next two women had to pick up casino chips, stack them, shuffle cards, deal them, shuffle them, spread them and turn them. This was judged by the Casino host Gavin. The last two men had to stuff two costumes they were wearing with balloons. The one with the most balloons wins. Then there was a group dance challenge. It was different and fun.) After Peer Factor we went to Club fusion for dancing during 80’s night. We always enjoy the theme nights and this was no exception. The cruise staff is a lot of fun and extremely hyper. After 80’s night was London Pub Night. This was our fourth Tim Donovan London Pub Night and he does it quite well. In four times, the 3rd just last week, we haven’t gotten tired of seeing it. This time we sat down close and videoed a lot of the show. Time to make another DVD. Pub night took us early into the morning. Time to crawl back to bed… 12-13-10 Grenada Early into Grenada, but then early to leave. The QM2 was anchored and tendering off shore. Ocean liners are built so different from a Caribbean cruise ship. She is a gorgeous ship. Breakfast was, of course, at Elena’s. Latte’s and mocha’s all around. A little Grenada shopping was in order, but the weather has turned very hot and humid. So we didn’t want to be out in the sun for too long. Ballroom class was at 2pm – the Rhumba. Ken and Merrily are a lot of fun to dance with so we invited them to dinner on our balcony for the evening. It was great having new friends over to share the beautiful view. The food was excellent, from the shrimp cocktails to the scallop ceviche, to the salads. Judy had the filet of beef, Ken had the steak, Merrily had the chicken and I had the duck. All were very good and the dinner conversation was wonderful. We missed the snow fall in the atrium the other day, but it was back today. I got some great video of Judy, Michael, Mark and Alicia swaying to white Christmas on the stairway while shooting up through the falling snow from the piano. Michael had just returned from an orphanage where he played Santa. That’s really great. After dinner we went to see Finis Henderson, a “Vocal Impressionist”. He sang Tom Jones, Michael Jackson, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and a host of others. It was a really good show and he got a standing ovation afterwards. It was really good music. After the show, it was tropical island deck party and as usual Tim and the crew threw one great deck party. A lot more participants this cruise than last. It was hot, humid and quite energetic. Tim has the best deck parties, although Neal Chandler runs a close second – but I heard he’s retired now and Samantha Hawker Thomas is playing the substitute CD role now. Tim gets in and really leads a great deck party. Its one that will make you sweat, but afterwards you will say that was one heck of a party. The CD has a lot to do with how much you enjoy the cruise - if you enjoy entertainment, music and dancing. For those of you that read, it probably doesn’t matter, except that when people are being entertained, they are typically not invading those nice quiet nooks that are good for reading. The difference between this and our last cruise is striking. We are never bored, can never do it all and are having a good time with the cruise staff. Last cruise it was quite boring at times. Tim is an excellent CD and we can’t wait to sail with him next year on the Sapphire for 28 days. There were some new games that we’ve never heard of, but couldn’t get to. Elevator roulette anyone? And at least with Club Fusion, trivia is not boring. Multi-media trivia is really fun in fusion and Mark does most of the music trivia games. We like to watch in between other activities. Another late night and another early morning…time for bed! 12-14-10 Bonaire We would not arrive in Bonaire until noon and were scheduled to leave around 630PM. Not having been in Bonaire before, we decided to get off and explore around a bit. But first we had breakfast with Elena and then Foxtrot with Ken and Merrily. After the deck party it was real hard to get up this morning. We really wanted to just stay in bed. Some shots of caffeine, 50 minutes of Foxtrot and a couple of laps around the deck and we finally woke up. Bonaire was hot and humid, the water at the dock the most beautiful clear and blue. After exploring town for a while we really wanted to just jump right in. Judy’s been having lunch in the HC a lot and I must admit the food for lunch is rather good. I typically hate HC lunches, but yesterday they had a shrimp, scallop and calamari antipasta that was out of this world. Not fishy at all, with cilantro, celery and I think some green jalapeno, it was really really good. The cold salads have been wonderful for lunch. Dinner was on the balcony overlooking Bonaire prior to leaving. It was Italian night and our favorite. The eggplant parmesan was extra special good as we looked out over the twinkling lights of Bonaire. The engines weren’t running so we had a nice quiet dinner. After dinner it was serious dancing time. Icon was in Explorer’s. We like dancing to the rock and roll bands and Explorer’s has a larger dance floor. The wheelhouse, with Phoenix Rising, is usually packed shoulder to shoulder. Icon played and we danced. Even though it was rock and roll we were able to dance the first 5 out of 6 songs, 2 rhumbas, a cha cha, a foxtrot and a hustle. We even tried a Viennese Waltz. There was supposed to be a comedian (David Morgan) in Explorer’s after Icon’s first set, but he missed his connection and would catch the ship in Aruba along with Aleysa – a 3 time hula hoop Guinness World Record holder – that was a Piazza act. So we went to the IC instead and had their 3 scoops of gelato for $1.50. Really good stuff. The best was the lemoncello. The country and western barn dance was at 945. A couple of line dances, a couple of slow dances, Cottoneye joe, the bang bang game and the tush push challenge, a beer, two long island iced teas and a margarita later we were exhausted and headed off to bed. 12-15-10 Aruba We’re seriously going to need a vacation after this vacation. These late nights, early mornings are starting to wear. (What!?! Still no sympathy?) So it’s time to pump up the activity level! This morning is Aruba. We’ve been here many times before, but a lot of people will be getting off the ship, so its off to burn off some calories again and use all the facilities before the final two sea days. Breakfast at Elena’s, then up to deck 19 for our mile walk and some pictures. Judy wants to visit the Thermal Suite so she goes to laze around and I go to the gym and do a couple of miles on the elliptical. A nice brisk swim in the Lotus Pool, a couple of minutes in the hot tub and I feel that I’ve accomplished something at least. We decided to order a light lunch into the room and have it on the balcony overlooking the port of Aruba. Kind of interesting being the subject of a number of tours circling the ship. It felt good to just stretch out on the lounger and watch the waves interact on the spit near the western entrance to the container dock. It looked like a rip tide was fighting a southerly swell. Watching that for a few minutes was enough to put my lights out for a while. We watched the sail away from the balcony as well. The Aruba harbor is very narrow and from the looks of the mud we churned up, very shallow. The lone bush/tree on the barrier island is still there, just a bit bigger than it was a few years ago. Just a very beautiful afternoon. Aleysa and David Morgan made it on the ship. Aleysa did the hoola hoop demo in the Piazza and all I can say is WOW! She brought a whole new meaning to the term ‘move it’! Picking three hoops up from the floor with just her feet was hard enough, she must have hooped at least 30 hoops in her final movement. Pretty incredible. We did a sushi and IC salad light dinner in Vines with some rather excellent Woodbridge White Zin. The wine went really well with the Feta cheese in the greek salad. After dinner we danced to Icon in the Explorer’s lounge until about 8pm and left to get a seat at the theatre to see David Morgan at 830. The theater was already 80% full at 8pm. So get there early! Judy really enjoyed the show. David Morgan is a comedian with a puppet. He’s not a Dan Horn type ventriloquist. I enjoyed the show, but it wasn’t my favorite. After the show we down to Fright Night in fusion with the cruise staff. Sort a Halloween revisited, but not many people attended. Talked to Miko, Alicia and Alex for a while. Michael showed up in a clown suit and rubber mask. That had to be hotter than all get out. Miko was a surgical intern, Alicia was the Red Queen, Alex was an escaped prisoner and Emma was a witch. Mark had a rubber ghoul’s mask on, but he was busy DJing. Miko wants to be a CD. I don’t know about his business skills, but he’s got the enthusiasm, attitude and commitment to make a good CD. His energy level reminds me of Samantha Hawker Thomas when we first met her in early 2002. Course he’s not as cute as Sam was/is, but based on being on board with him for the past couple of weeks, Princess might want to take a look at him for a deputy slot. We learned the thriller line dance, danced for a while and then the day, the wine and two mixed drinks decided that it was time to go to bed. 12-17-10 At Sea Well the cruise is winding down now. One more free day before the dreaded packing day. Reality is starting to seep back in, intruding on dreams, waking us up at night. It’s been a wonderful cruise. Definitely in our top 5 of all time. The food has been really good, the entertainment very good with lots to do and the service top notch. We’ve really enjoyed the suite and the perks that go with it. Breakfast at Sabbatini’s is the number one perk for us, dinner or lunch from the menu delivered to the balcony is a very close #2. It will be hard to go back to the HC for breakfast on the next cruise. Well maybe I should look into an upgrade! Yes, Golden princess deck 15 suites – wow that would be nice! But we do like the aft suites and cabins. You can use the balcony without any issues while the ship is in motion. There is hardly any breeze to blow stuff around. We have had a lot more interaction with the cruise staff and personnel on this cruise than the last cruise. We will always remember Michael for his down home friendly nature, Ben for his goofy Australian attitude, Alicia for her tolerance for being the most picked on staff member, Miko for his boundless energy (he can go far in this industry), Alex for her smile, Emma for being the kind, cute and innocent one, and Mark for his great musical trivia presentations. Ken and Merrily have been our favorite ball room instructors. Although we love Vian and Jane dearly from our last September HI cruise, we have been able to interact with Ken and Merrily much more and they are closer to our age group. Carlos, our room steward has been top notch. Elena at Sabbatini’s in the morning has made our mornings for us. Her smile and warm welcome, not to mention the continuous stream of latte’s, mocha’s, cappacino’s and juices, have made it a do not miss for the entire 20 day cruise. Armen in the dining room during our first 10 days was great and the entire room service staff on the second 10 days have been really good to us as well. So for basically our last day of vacation we did the Sabbatini breakfast with Elena. The sea was a bit rough this morning, so Judy retreated to the Piazza and I just wandered around the ship until the 2pm ballroom class (Meringue) with Ken and Merrily. At 3pm we had line dance with Alicia in the Piazza. Tonight would be the last formal night, so we decided to dress the part. But we first ordered dinner on the balcony and it was the best yet. The setting sun set fire to the horizon as it dipped below the waves while we enjoyed prawns, lobster, beef wellington, shrimp cocktails, salad and ravioli. Everything tasted wonderful, enhanced by the fact that we skipped lunch. After dinner it was time to dance, but not too strenuous. When in formal wear, I just can’t dance that much without heat stroke. But I like to dress up now and then to show off my wife. So we danced in Explorer’s lounge to Icon, watched Mike Price (the juggler comedian and he’s one of the best jugglers we’ve ever seen) in Explorer’s, then did a couple of dances during the 9pm Anniversary waltz time in Club Fusion. We also watched the Newly Wed, Not so Newly Wed show in Club fusion. After that it was time to call it a night. 12-17-10 At Sea – Last Day I hate packing day – although in a suite it is a lot easier. Finding all the nooks and crannies we put everything in was a challenge as well. We were determined to enjoy ourselves to the max today, but it hard to include a lot of hard goodbyes. We’ve met a lot of wonderful people on ships, both passengers and crew. A few we’ve kept in touch with, a lot we’ve lost touch with and some, sadly, are gone forever. As in all of our past cruises, our interaction with Princess personnel distinguishes a good cruise from a great cruise – and make no mistake, this was a great cruise. Elena, Carlos, Ken, Merrily, Roy, Peggy, Tim, Miko, Alicia, Emma, Alex, Michael, Mark, Ben and a host of other smiling friendly faces. Saying goodbye to so many was hard. But unfortunately, reality must intrude and bills must be paid. So its back to the grind, but not until one last fling. Breakfast starts with Elena, of course. I really wanted to order one of each from the menu, but settled for an omelet, split with Judy, in return for a piece of her Brioche French Toast. We kinda got hooked on the hamsteak for breakfast. Lightly grilled for the slight char flavor, it was always really really good. We didn’t have anything scheduled until after noon when line dancing, ballroom and a host of other activities were on. So we packed, checked the bill – NOTE you can now swipe your card at the CC host deck and it will print your bill for you rather than standing in line at the Purser’s desk. We’ve actually gotten pretty good at packing, doing a 75% pack in the morning and a final pack at night. At 12:15 the day really started with Miko’s line dance review, followed by the Cha-Cha with Ken and Merrily. There was a lot we wanted to pack into the last day, so we skipped the traditional power nap in favor of a five hour energy drink. Miko’s pop choir would be in the Piazza and their rehearsals in Club Fusion sounded really good. We wanted to catch that and we also wanted to simply dance the night away. The pop choir was pretty good. But we also wanted one last dinner on the balcony, and we had to put out our luggage, so we ordered the landfall dinner. It was ok. Judy’s pasta with clams had a little sand in it, so that kind of put her ‘off her feed’, but I liked the Fettuccine Alfredo. The butter fish was very good. A typical landfall dinner, but when served and eaten on an aft balcony – priceless. After dinner it was dancing to Icon in Explorer’s. When Icon quit, it was time to go to Fusion for the ballroom blitz hour to canned music. A lot of the dancers from the cruise showed up and it was a lot of fun. After the hour of dancing we went back to Explorer’s to dance to Icon once again. There was a 10pm dance date in the Piazza we didn’t want to miss as well. The farewell dancing at the Piazza got off to a slow start. At first it was just Miko and Emma, then Judy and I joined in with a Cha-Cha. Judy then danced with Miko while I single stepped with Emma and then a bunch of people started joining in. We had a great time for about an hour dancing with Icon. Ben even stopped by to say goodbye. The real treat came after the dancing when the entire staff, sans Mark, showed up in the Piazza and we were able to say goodbye to Miko, Emma, Alex, Michael and Alicia properly. We even got to say goodbye to Tim and Billy Vader as well. It was closure and it was perfect. You see sometime during the day we had written Tim Donovan a thank you letter for the entertainment and activities during the cruise. Because, hopefully, Princess reads these boards, here’s what we sent: ----- Dear Tim, We’ve had a wonderful time over the past 20 days. We especially enjoyed the variety of the entertainment, the packed schedule and your entire cruise staff. They are energetic, enthusiastic and a credit to Princess. They helped, in no small part, make this one of our favorite cruises and you one of our favorite Cruise Directors. We will always remember Michael for his down home friendly nature, Ben for his goofy Australian attitude, Alicia for her tolerance for being the most picked on staff member, Miko for his boundless energy (he can go far in this industry), Alex for her smile, Emma for being the kind, cute and innocent one, and Mark for his great musical trivia presentations. The team’s performance is a testament to your leadership and management. We’ve been blogging this cruise on the Cruise Critic Princess message board in a “Live From” thread if you are curious about the details. Suffice it to say we have had a great time, and we can’t wait to do it again. Thanks again and we hope to sail with you in the future! --- Everyone deserves a pat on the back for job well done every once in a while. We’ve been on cruises with ok cruise staff, good cruise staff and great cruise staff. The ok one’s do their job, the good ones are fun, but it’s still a job to them. The great ones enjoy what they do and commit themselves 110% to making sure everyone has a great time. This team was one of the great ones and it’s a shame we’ll probably never see any of them again, but we can always hope. Let’s take Tim Donovan for example. He’s a great hands on CD. He doesn’t have to be the ballerina during London Pub Night, but his ballerina is the best we’ve seen; he doesn’t have to let Billy Vader play off him during a comedy show, but it made the show; he doesn’t have to almost kill himself directing 60 minutes of hot dancing on the deck outside during Island Night, but his energy level is infectious and only Miko and Alicia could even hope to keep up with him. So he does all this physical work, plus the morning show, plus all the paperwork, and there is a lot of it, plus Bingo, plus hosting, along with a bunch of other CD related duties – and he doesn’t have to! He could just manage. I know of a couple of CDs who do just that - and not that “just managing” is bad! The point is that Tim is a great example of personal commitment to doing the best job possible. He walks the walk. Anyone like that is a credit to any organization and deserves a pat on the back. 12-18-10 Disembarkation The worst day of the vacation. But we started it off in style by having a huge breakfast on the balcony while we glided in to dock beside the Crown. Got some great aft shots of the Crown as we docked. There were 7 ships in port including Oasis, Crown and Emerald. The taxi lines were long and we were 30 minutes late getting in. Our color, Navy 4, was to be called at 9:55, but did not get called until 1030. We didn’t get a cab until 1100 and then got to FLL about 1115. Good thing I have elite status at Continental as we bypassed a huge checkin line (about 50 people deep) and a large security line as well. Our flight was at 1pm and we finally got settled near the gate at 1200. People with early flights today would probably miss them given the load of passengers coming in at the same time. We’ve always debated flying out the same day versus staying the night and going home the next day. The only time we ever did that, Judy was sick as a dog on the way home. We didn’t get home until 1030PM, making it a very late day, but waking up the next morning in your own bed and not having to travel was worth it. So the travel log comes to an end. Until next time… Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
This was our second time doing this 10 day Caribbean out of Fort Lauderdale on the Emerald Princess and we enjoyed it thoroughly (with a few minor problems). Embarkation was a breeze, rooms were ready exceptionally early and lunch ... Read More
This was our second time doing this 10 day Caribbean out of Fort Lauderdale on the Emerald Princess and we enjoyed it thoroughly (with a few minor problems). Embarkation was a breeze, rooms were ready exceptionally early and lunch was being served as we boarded! Last time we took this cruise in Nov. 2008 I had a relapse of a flu/cold that kept me out of action the entire voyage. This trip was a re-do to see what I had missed. Meeting up with Cruise Critic folks made this voyage so much more enjoyable! We had some major issues with our cabin steward (only the second time in 27 cruises) but I think it wasn't the norm for this voyage so won't dwell on the negative. Suffice it to say I LOVE Princess. The staff in general are polite, well trained and exceed our expectations. Having a self-serve laundry onboard is the icing on the cake! The few complaints (we had to look hard to find faults!) are the body lotion in the cabin stinks! Not sure how they think this is a Spa product but the smell is awful! We ordered a flower arrangement for our cabin and it was dying after 3 days - our Recent Royal Caribbean cruise has a wonderful flower arrangement that stayed fresh the entire 7 days. And if you really want to be picky - what's with the paper products (Kleenex & TP)? Total cardboard - but not any better on other cruises so I won't hold that against them. Don't get me wrong this cruise was wonderful - I'm trying to keep it real. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
We arrived in FLL airport on November 14th at 1130AM, and were at the port by 12PM. Easy and smooth embarkation. We were given orange "number 1" cards and grabbed a seat near the entryway to paradise (in reality, an oversized ... Read More
We arrived in FLL airport on November 14th at 1130AM, and were at the port by 12PM. Easy and smooth embarkation. We were given orange "number 1" cards and grabbed a seat near the entryway to paradise (in reality, an oversized cubicle wall that would give Dilbert heart failure, which separated us from the convention style desks marked with deck designations). After a 40 minute wait, our "number 1" cards were called and we cavorted through the cubicle. After a quick processing and interrogation by Helga the Terrible (check in)we were in our cabin by 1 PM. In all seriousness, the embarkation staff were wonderful. We called the dine line immediately at 1 PM to get a spot at the Holy Grail of all princess cruises, the Chef's Table. A nice fellow named Icky (yes, that was the name he gave me) took our information and lack of allergy needs, and told us we would hear from his office about whether we would be attending the event. I felt like we were aspiring Hollywood actors, and Icky the agent had just told us "Don't call us, we'll call you." Since I had called by 1 PM, I thought we had the part. That'll teach me to be so smug, but later on that one. Oh yes, I also had Icky book us at the Crown Grill and Sabatini's, per the advice of my well travelled CC peers. Apparently, those shows were hard up for even bad actors, as we got in at both without issue. Armed with special knowledge from the CC boards, my DW and I marched to the Pursurs desk to ask which dining room was open for lunch. We were told that they were all closed. Hand to the side of my face, I confided in the Princess Rep that we had special knowledge that one DR was indeed open, all she had to do was tell us which one, and we wouldn't let the secret out. She again said none were open. Fine then. I collected myself and decided to investigate this one on my own, DW shaking her head sadly behind me. The first DR we came upon was the DaVinci, and low and behold, staff was in there and pax were seated at tables! I marched in triumpant and asked to be seated. "Sorry sir, we are closed," was the reply. How could this be, my inside info was wrong! "Sir, we closed at 2:30, it is now 2:45." Yes, I was so secure in my knowledge that I forgot to think "lunch" had an expiration time. I guess that's when "dinner" starts. Oh well, off to the buffet and a shrimp fest that would make Red Lobster blush. The next heavy lifting activity was the Muster Drill. I was confident in the knowledge that I could handle a life jacket, and quite certain the proper direction to abandon ship was down, so I wanted to skip this one. I had read on CC that the crew hadn't gotten the card scanning thing down at the muster stations, so I could get away with it. My DW, however, pointed out that the Muster flyer said this was REQUIRED BY LAW, so my logic was a bit flawed. Of course, I took a stand on this one, as all husbands must......You know what, they DO scan cards now. I realized this as we entered our muster stations during the drill. Did you know that a human female can speak the words "I told you so" with just a glance? Sailaway was breathtaking. We found the CC secret spot above the bridge. Just as we arrived at the first door from the Lido deck to this spot, DW said "I don't think we are meant to go through here." I confidently opened it and looked down a short, dismal hallway to another nondescript door. She KNEW we shouldn't go through that one. I did anyway and we were there! Best view on all sides, high above the ship, spectacular. And for the first time on this cruise, I was actually right! I tried to bask even slightly in my glory, because it might be my only chance. We passed the Allure of the Seas on the way out, and that ship is huge. I managed to get some great camera shots of the Allure, setting sun, and planes taking off from FLL above. Ah, the sights and sounds of sailaway, and the anticipation of a great week at sea. I won't forget it, at least not until we take our next cruise. Dinner that evening was to be our first taste of specialty dining, the Crown Grill. We had reservations at 6 PM and arrived 10 minutes early, so we opened the front door and walked right in. Ooops. The place looked deserted, with maybe one chef in the back and no one at the podium up front. That prompted me to keep walking in further. I realized after a bit that I was now alone, as DW had stayed cautiously by the front door, perhaps sensing impending danger or outright doom. From out of the elegant, dimly lit atmosphere, or shadows, came a huge fellow with a Russian accent, who told me they were closed, sir. As a brave American who weathered the might of the cold war, I naturally retreated, gathered my DW, and waited outside. Fashionably early at the Crown Grill is not a good thing, tovarish. When we entered properly after 6, our maitre d', whose name escapes me but whose size never will, cheerfully showed us to our table. He didn't look as imposing when armed with a smile, better lighting and the fact that they were now actually open. Our server was a dynamo named Nestor. He exuded friendliness and let us know right away we could have whatever dining experience we wished, whether slow and savory or fast, like "Speedy Gonzalez". This caused me to picture Nestor as a rodent in white peasant garb and a big sombrero for the rest of the night. He probably still wonders why I had to suppress a giggle every time he walked by. Other than the long ears and whiskers, he was a truly fine server. We ordered cobinations of different appetizers and entres, and he never said no. We even ordered six extra lobster tails (which I guessed would get us a Speedy kick right out the door) and he said "right away." Nestor was top notch, as was the food at the Crown. I had the scallops and foe gras appetizer (that's leeeever, i theeenk), and loved it. DW had the filet, and it was cooked to perfection. The lobster tails were incredible...we cut them with a fork! Dessert had to be sent to the room for later. After dinner, we explored the ship a bit. I confirmed that the Ruby is exactly like the Crown (we sailed the Crown last November), with some minor exceptions, such as the location of the excursions desk. I then decided that it was my time to start divesting the Ruby of its money by way of the casino. Since I am an expert blackjack player, this was to be an easy process. Unfortunately, someone before me had taught the Ruby's dealers how to play, and play well. So well that I was not going to be anything but broke if I kept this up. Exit stage left. We played cards with my in-laws later that evening, and I watched the lights of passing ships out on the balcony. A very peaceful end to the first day onboard. Yes, I said peaceful and in-laws in the same paragraph, we actually do get along very well. Day two was a stop at Princess Cays. We planned to tender over later, let the crwods beat us, in effect. I ventured out at 8 AM for my daily walk. Since I had lost a bit of weight (truth be told, the Michelin Man had nothing on me until recently, when I could finally be considered in the "normal" body mass range), I was determined to complete my very own "cruise marathon", or 26.2 miles of walking during the cruise. I had heard on CC that the Promenade deck of the Ruby was a 1/3 mile walk on level ground, so three laps were a mile. This was almost true. I noticed that tape had been placed on the outer edge of the deck, marking every 10 meters. As I walked along, I looked down carefully at the markings to figure out the length of a lap. Suddenly, my foot, followed by my body, bumped into a set of steps which had no business being on a flat deck. Apparently, the forward section of the Promenade deck is actually the Emerald deck, separated by about 20 steps up, then down. My marathon would now be a mara and stair climber thon. The deck ended up being 610 meters, slightly more than 1/3 mile, for those of you who could use this info. I thought I might be the only person up this early. However, about a dozen people had joined me on my walk. It was interesting. I speed walked, which meant I passed other walkers. Some folks ran, which meant they passed me. Other runners and walkers were going the other way. Even worse, the deck became a one lane road at the stern. The whole scene resembled a demented Autobahn full of drunk or Sunday drivers in the wrong lanes. "Excuse me" turned to "on your right" and quickly became "ouch!" Note to self: get up earlier tomorrow. By the time I returned to the room, DW was ready to eat, and didn't even comment on the musty smell accompanying her to breakfast. We tried the Horizon Court buffet, and it was a winner. We ate breakfast there every day. An omelette station was hidden next to the scrambled eggs, and the sky was the limit. They even offered Egg Beaters. I'd like to think the veggie/egg beaters omelette balanced the bacon very well, but I could be kidding myself. The tender to Princess Cays was a breeze. We sat in the Michaelangelo dining room for about 5 minutes, then off we went. Princess Cays (PC, for short, although some of the bathing suits I saw were anything but PC) was fantastic. Nice sandy beaches, but the water was surprisingly cold for the tropics. The cookout was delicious. Plenty to choose from, even for dieters like me. I had a salad and grilled chicken, and it was delicious. Very fresh fruit was served near the picnic area. After a quick tender back to the Ruby, we ate dinner at the DaVinci DR. We had assigned dining at 5:30 PM, which was a newer concept. I had read complaints on CC about anytime diners being put out by this, since DaVinci was previously anytime only. I can understand this. When we walked in, we were asked if we had a table and were shown in right away. Others waited in line outside, as they had anytime dining. I can see why this would ruin the anytime experience, and I would not opt for anytime until they fix this. We met out servers, Lorentz and Suppon. Both were fabulous, and catered to anything we asked. Iceberg lettuce wedge as a salad? No problem. Balsamic dressing? Sure. More than one appetizer? Absolutely. Can you make my food spicy? Huh? What? But you are from the U.S.! We aren't used to that one. They passed the baton to Filipe, our head waiter. Within a few minutes, he had the chefs dice up some jalapeno peppers, which I sprinkled on my food. Tasty, but not hot enough. Felipe promised to call in the troops and be ready for me the next night with the big guns, the Indian and Thai chefs. I'm not so sure I like this. Day three began earlier, at 6:45 AM. As I tried to go out the doors to the Promenade, I noticed they were taped off. They apparently clean the decks until 7. Great. I could just see myself slipping on a wet deck and becoming either a railing ornament or a fishing lure. No need to worry though, they dry the decks too. The walk was easier today, since I had beaten the walker's rush hour. The winds at the bow were brutal. I felt like the guy sitting in an easy chair in front of the stereo in that older commercial, with everything blowing off of me as I walked forward. After I turned the corner at the bow, the tail wind doubled my speed and practically threw me down the steps. Exercise, meet the X games. Since today was a sea day, it would be total relaxation. DW spent a good portion of the day laying out at the pool, while I was layed out flat by the dealers in the casino. At 2 PM, we went up the Skywalkers for our CC role call "meet and greet" event. We were a bit nervous, since I had only "met" any of these people on the CC bulletin boards, and I really hadn't posted much to our role call. Everyone on there semmed to have cruised together before or been friends since birth, as inside jokes or perhaps cult codes were often passed back and forth on the roll call. Not to worry, they were just really nice people who had a lot more cruise experience than we did. Conversation flowed and I understood it all, including the jokes. Not one cup of kool aid was passed either. Just as the atmosphere started to get festive, the wedding party shows up. Ummmmm, we do intend to renew ours vows eventually, but no one told us to dress up and we just can't afford to rent these people! But they wouldn't leave. Apparently, Princess had double booked the room, and the wedding party had security with them, so they won. We were sent off before anyone could even schedule another room or suggest another day to meet. Great people on our roll call, luckily none of them named Jones. Just before dinner, we received notice that, to the great regret of Princess, the roles of leading man and lady would be given to ten other passengers. We missed the Chef's Table for tomorrow night. No white coats, free books, free flowing wine, stellar food, or behind the scenes looks at the kitchen. We tried to beg our way in with the maitre d', Generoso who despite his name, could not be generous. He did try, and even went to our table personally to apologize. Fine, I will exact payment in the form of spicy food. Formal night dinner started with a visit from our head waiter. Felipe was grinning ear to ear, mumbling something about Thai spice powder. I was presented with a shrimp dish in a tomato based sauce, with lots of suspicious looking little seeds. Felipe couldn't tell me what it was, just that it was HOT. It was indeed delicious, but still not spicy enough. Wednesday began bright and early, after the cleaning crews quit for the day. It was amazing to walk the decks and watch as we approached the island of St. Martin, entered the harbor and docked. Thw whole docking process on such a huge ship amazes me, as I grew up around smaller boats. Same concept, just on a massive scale. St. Martin is a split island. We had docked on the Dutch side. I understand the French side is rich in culture, french cooking and fine architecture. It was also a $38 cab ride, so we stuck with the Dutch side. Lots of nice shops, a McDonald's (so there is grest food on the Dutch side too!), and an adorable little town hall. We passed a bar called the "Blue B*tch" (add an "i" for the *). It made for a good picture, but I wasn't going in there. The casino on the island had relatives dealing on the Ruby, so they knew me. Bad idea there. Dinner that night was a shrimp and scallop concoction that was spicy, just not quite there yet. Felipe left unhappy, but determined. I mentioned habanero or ghost peppers, but they had none on board and had no pepper dealers in the islands. The fine cast of the Chef's Table walked right by us, white coats on display, on their way to the kitchen and culinary nirvanna. May your Dramamine patches fall off in rough seas, grrrrrrrr. Thursday was St. Thomas, where my in-law's family jeweler was to meet us at the dock and drive us to his shop and then to lunch. Now, if you are wondering why my in-laws have a jeweler, I'm right there with you. This did not bode well for me. The island is great for shopping, with two cruise docks about five miles apart, both full of every shop you can imagine. DW did well. The blackjack dealers on the ship were kinder to me than this island was. I did get some spicy Chinese food out of the deal, though. Friday brought a new island, Grand Turk. We debarked (pulled the skin off of a tree?) quickly, since we had a snorkelling excursion planned. Reef and Ray, oh my. It sounded fabulous. At the reef, I had to be the first off the boat. That was when I felt the current pulling at me. DW joined me and we both swam around, marvelling at the sea life on the reef. Then I met the reef up close and personal. I felt my flipper hit something, then turned around and was up to my neck in coral. My left forearm and right leg were on fire. I managed to warn DW in time and extricate myself, but the damage was done. My arm was red and swollen, with little bumps on it like I was in a cold climate. I thought, "this is pretty cool" and kept swimming around. Apparently, the strong current had tossed me into a higher reef that was just at the water's surface. When we were called back to the boat, the current slammed DW into the ladder as well. I was sitting on the boat bench a bit later, when another passenger said, "hey, your leg is bleeding!" I looked down and my leg was bloody from the calf down due to two cuts from the coral. Cool again. Good thing there weren't any sharks in the area. Well, the crew had me fill out a thorough incident report, and seemed really worried. I suppose other might try to take advantage of such a situation, but accidents happen. The "ray" stop consisted of one sting ray held by the crew and shown to passengers. I think they took it there by leash in its own tank. One of them slipped up and called it Fido. The trip could have been better without that nasty current, but c'est la vie. I wouldn't take this excursion again, but would instead follow the advice of other CC members and book ahead via the web. After the bloody snorkel and ray, Grand Turk got better. The dock there is obviously brand new, as are the shops. Ron Jons Surf Shop is there, so T shirts had to be purchased. I had to get a shirt from Margaritaville as well, since it was this very song that got me tossed out of the Princess Pop Stars competition. Yes, I found my lost shaker of salt. Since we had a reservation at the Crown tomorrow, tonight was Felipe's last shot at me. He did well, as his last dish had me sweating just enough to declare it spicy to my tastes. Not the hottest I've ever eaten, but don't tell him that! Felipe was by far the crew member who went out of his way for us (well, me) most. He took me on as a personal challenge, and succeeded in his mission with what he had on hand. Bravo Felipe! Saturday was a sea day, which gave me one final shot at redemption in the casino. While DW fried her body at the pool, this lilly white boy sat in the casino for a few hours, bound and determined to go broke or at least take back what I had given them for 6 days. After a hard (and fun) fight, I managed to end up slightly ahead for the cruise, which is a win for me. After a nice tip to the dealer, I walked out with a big smile, never to return (for this cruise). Dinner that night was at the Crown, where Speedy worked his magic yet again. Great food at the Crown. Service at the DR's is top notch, and they go the extra mile for you, but the best food and food quality is at the Crown, hands down. It helps to be served by a fast mouse, too. Sunday came too quickly. The first thing I noticed was an attitude change in the crew. These nice, wonderful friendly people were getting moody. It must have been that time of the....week? My guess is that turnaround day is so hectic that it brings out the worst in people, and they don't have to see me tomorrow, so why bother so much? Understandable, logical, but fun to observe. Debarkation was hectic for us, as the purser's desk made a bit of an error. This can easily happen, but it sure seemed like they wanted us to miss our flight and stay with them. I'd be fine with that, but my relatives only offered to babysit for ONE week. They sent us to the wrong room to debark, so we ended up leaving the ship an hour later. We did make our flight, so they failed in their attempt to keep us. However, it was frustrating. All in all, this was a dream vacation for us. Princess was the right choice and did a fine job, with just a few understandable exceptions. Did any of the issues really matter in the big picture? Not at all. Can Princess make up for it by sending a chef, some wine, a couple of white coats and a cookbook to our house right away? Yes. So, if Princess thinks I will ever cruise with them again, they would be correct. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
We sailed on the Ruby in October, 2009 and liked the ship and our stateroom so well we booked the same stateroom this time. The night before we embarked, we stayed at the Marriott Courtyard Cruiseport hotel. This hotel will shuttle you ... Read More
We sailed on the Ruby in October, 2009 and liked the ship and our stateroom so well we booked the same stateroom this time. The night before we embarked, we stayed at the Marriott Courtyard Cruiseport hotel. This hotel will shuttle you free from the airport to the hotel and then free from the hotel to the ship. Good hotel rooms but this year we had to pay for breakfast. It was a nice breakfast buffet and we think it was about $11 per person. So, the savings on taxi fares were spent on breakfast. Embarkation was absolutely easy! We arrived at the cruiseport at about 10:30AM and were seated inside with a number 1 in our hands! There are restrooms inside and chairs were comfortable. At exactly 11:30AM, we boarded the ship and went directly to our stateroom. We have found we love this stateroom which is on the absolute back of the ship, looking out at the wake. It is covered, 1/3 larger than other balconies, private, and you never have cigarette smoke to smell because of how the wind is while sailing! The stateroom itself is very standard and the storage is very plentiful. Bathroom was not a problem. It's a small shower, but the water was always hot! Our stateroom steward, Cristian, was by far and away the happiest Princess employee we have ever encountered on any cruise. We wanted to adopt him! We went upstairs to the Horizon Buffet for lunch and found it to be very good. We did the Scavenger Hunt prior to the Sail away. It is a great way to find out where all the good places on the ship are and then there's a fun party and drawing for prizes at the Sail away time. We opted for the early seating traditional dining this time and enjoyed a table for 6 in the Botticelli Dining Room. We loved our table mates and our Waiter and Junior Waiter, Sapon and Hartoto. We always had adequate menu choices for dinner and the hot food was hot, and the cold food cold. We were especially impressed with the care the staff took in accommodating one of our table mate's needs for a Vegetarian Diet. The Maitre'D and our Waiters continually checked with this person to be sure he had good choices to his liking. Portion sizes were just right for us, and we know that if you want more food, all you have to do is ask. Our first port was Princess Cays. Tendering seemed easier than last year and certainly went faster. It wasn't as hot as last year so we actually enjoyed being there this time. No need to rent a cabana. There are many, many lounge chairs in shady areas on the beach. We did not try any of the excursions or beach toys but it appeared people seemed happy with their choices all day. The BBQ lunch was very good and there were many choices. The one negative was the island drink we purchased. Neither of ours seemed to have much if any alcohol in them as promised. We did hear this complaint from others as well. St. Maarten was our second stop. Our excursion was the sailing on the America's Cup sailboats for a 12 meter race aboard either the Stars and Stripes or Canada 2. We loved doing this! There were crew jobs for those who wanted to be active and also some for those who just wanted to enjoy (we even had an "iceberg watcher" position!). Unfortunately, we did not have enough time in port to do much else on the island as we would have liked. One of our pet peeves about the excursions we sign up for onboard ship is that so many times, time is wasted waiting on the pier for late comers. There just don't seem to be any consequences for those who make the rest of us wait for them and hence, lose time enjoying the excursion and extra time on an island. Princess, are you listening???? St. Thomas is, of course, a shopping extravaganza. However, this time we chose to take a water taxi to the island of St. John to go to the Trunk Bay beach. This beach is absolutely pristine and wonderful. It is part of the Virgin Islands National Park and so is well kept pristine. We loved the snorkeling and even the fun (crazy driver) ride from the taxi port to the beach. Water taxi took us past Madonna's St. Thomas home, and other famous landmarks which were announced. Nice 45 minute ride. Again, this tour took so long (5 hours) that we didn't have time to do much else on St. Thomas. We didn't care here, but if you do need to shop as well as go to St. John...not possible. Our last port was Grand Turk. We did not expect to like this place because we had been told, and had read, that "there's nothing to do here." WRONG. The beach is directly beside where the ship docks so there is no need to get transportation to a beach. It is a very nice beach with many, many chairs (free) under the shade of many palms. Nice restrooms. Great shops right here too. And the crown jewel of this port is Margaritaville! There's a nice pool for those who don't want the ocean water, a swim up bar, a wave rider, and the best drinks we had during our entire cruise. We absolutely loved this port. It was just fine to have a day where we didn't have to go far to relax. We didn't find the Casino as fun this year as we did last. The smoke in here (there were 2 non-smoking nights however) was oppressive. The $5 Blackjack table now uses 8 decks which is not to the player's favor and they shuffle about halfway through the decks. There were other games but we didn't try them. Slot machines were just fair. A few were what I would call loose, but the majority were not and there were very few of the newer slots you might see in a regular casino. We did not go to the theater or any of the bars for the entertainment this year. The boutiques had a good selection of duty free items and the sales were fun. Don't ever pass up a sale in one of the dining rooms. They occasionally have a real good deal buried somewhere in a pile! We found the prices at the Lotus Spa for massages to be almost double what they were last year so we did not book a massage. We love the fact that anyone can use the Sanctuary Pool. That's pretty much of a secret onboard but it is true. Try the current machine. Great exercise trying to swim against the current! Very quiet place and you're not on display for too many other cruisers. Disembarkation was fantastic. Easy and very efficient. All in all, this was another excellent cruise! Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
This is Princess cruise number 12 for us. We stayed at Hampton Inn Plantation, pre cruise, lovely place with free transportation. We waited to get to the ship until 2pm, no lines encounterd, the herds had already gotton on board. Quick ... Read More
This is Princess cruise number 12 for us. We stayed at Hampton Inn Plantation, pre cruise, lovely place with free transportation. We waited to get to the ship until 2pm, no lines encounterd, the herds had already gotton on board. Quick check in, no line, on the ship in 10 mintes. Princess is very good still- but you can certainly see the changes throughout the years. Service isn't quite what it was, though generally ours was fine. Our cabin steward was great. Our dining room server was not good. He was only going through the motions, and quite possibly the worst server we've ever encountered. Our cabin, C742 was fabulous, a nice big balcony that we really enjoyed. The ship is only a few years old, so she is attractive, clean, well kept. We have always encountered well mannered ship employees. Even the guy wiping the banisters says "Good Morning". Dinner in Sabatini's was delicious. Takes too long to eat in there. I see subtle changes in the menu, since all 12 of our cruises have been within this decade, I am very familiar with the menu. The food is good, just not what it used to be in the dining room. Pizza is yummy. The best at sea, so I've heard! if you're a coffe hound like my DH, don't go to the dining room for breakfast. He practically had to beg for refills. One morning the waiter never bothered to come with coffee after nicely asked twice. We went to the international cafe and he bought a premium coffee. Oh well, we had a great time, we always do. But at the end of the week, having spent all that time with 3,000 other pax, I'm ready to get off that ship! Princess balcony cabins are not great in size. They are however; efficient with the space allotted, and attractive. The beds are hard and uncomfortable, pillows flat as pancakes. Our Caribe deck balcony was half open, half covered. Perfect! The really bad thing was C742 backs up to the steward's closet and every morning we were jolted awake by someone banging and clunking around in that closet! We love the aft section, it is usually quiet, with very little foot traffic. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
This was our fourth holiday cruise (Christmas and New Years) and the third with Princess. Year one was Panama Canal on the Island, two was Hawaii on Golden, then last year we tried Holland America and did Panama Canal on the Amsterdam. We ... Read More
This was our fourth holiday cruise (Christmas and New Years) and the third with Princess. Year one was Panama Canal on the Island, two was Hawaii on Golden, then last year we tried Holland America and did Panama Canal on the Amsterdam. We decided to go back to Princess because although the HA ship was nicer - Princess seemed to have better food and entertainment. GOOD - The price was right when I purchased this for us in May and when we got married in October, we decided it would also be our honeymoon. Things started smoothly - embarkation was a dream (especially after having to wait three hours with no food to board HA last year because of a health issue.) BAD - The ship looked very worn. We were told that it is due for renovation in April and it is none too soon. I'm really getting sick of Princess Bland. My main problem with this ship is the issue with smoke. On all the other ships (in the common areas) - if you just avoid the casino - you can avoid the smell. The Grand must have been built before people became so concerned. The entire sixth deck stunk and the smell spread to parts of decks five and seven. I was only able to eat in the dining room on the fifth floor. I couldn't sit at the bar on five or six to listen to music like I normally do - because of the yucky smell. It is bad enough that you will likely smell smoke in all hallways and on your balcony because the ship is too lazy to require smoker's to confine themselves to certain levels or areas. This ship was the worst! I didn't even get to see Skywalker's because they cater to the smokers. GOOD - Some of the personnel on this ship were the best I've experienced. Alina from Romania in the Michelangelo Dining Room was a delight! Our steward, Sonia, was top-notch. I also really liked that Princess continued with all you can drink soda cards. HA went with a 20 soda punch card that put me into caffeine withdrawal. BAD - Services. Couldn't reach room service for over an hour at a non-busy time to order our champagne breakfast. Couldn't reach the Sanctuary for a reservation. (They told me their phone wasn't working but neglected to let the pursur's desk know about it.) We called to report our television out of order and were told someone would be up to check on it. We waited two hours and then went to dinner. Called again and was told that the electrician would be "right up". An hour later, our steward was able to fix the problem and told us that the electrician only responds to true emergencies. Three days later we got a call asking if our TV was still a problem. I was so dumbfounded - I couldn't think of a quick response. BAD - The ship stopped (blew a fuse). Picture this - we're listening to a comedian make a joke about Carnival's cruise with stranded passengers and five minutes later the lights go out and the engine below us stops. GOOD - The comedian (Kevin Hughes) doesn't miss a beat - someone shines a flashlight on him from the back and he ad libs for forty minutes. BAD - The captain tells us that his men have found the problem and it was a fuse. The lights and AC come back on and then he says "I hope you won't hear from me again." I wondered if he had to commit hari-kari. GOOD/BAD - Entertainment - Tony Cherry and Kevin Hughes were EXCELLENT. The ventriloquist, hypnotist and magician were pretty mediocre. For the first time though -- the musical options were really bad. Ray Coussins pounded on the piano like an elephant walking on it. His constant "flourishes" may have caused non- musicians to think he was talented - but his playing was muddy and torturous. GOOD - Places we visited. See more below. I was amazed how delightful Princess Cays was. I expected a rip-off, but had a blast. We took mostly taxi tours in the other cities - cheaper and less herding. It did seem that the shore excursions were more reasonable this time. Don't do Santo Domingo on your own though. Some guy grabbed my husband's foot and put black shoe polish on his expensive brown shoes. BAD - Holiday Celebration - New Year's Eve was not as well coordinated as on other ships. The top deck was a windy nightmare. Ray Coussins was banging uncontrollably in one lounge and the atrium area was crowded and reeked of smoke from the casino. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
We (DW and DH, Cabin E732) were travelling in the company of DH's mother (travelling separately in Mini-Suite D601) for this cruise from Singapore to Sydney. For some time prior to this trip we have considered Royal Caribbean to be a ... Read More
We (DW and DH, Cabin E732) were travelling in the company of DH's mother (travelling separately in Mini-Suite D601) for this cruise from Singapore to Sydney. For some time prior to this trip we have considered Royal Caribbean to be a more dynamic and passenger-sensitive cruiseline than Princess, in spite of Royal's limited presence in Australian waters. We have travelled on Royal's Rhapsody, Legend, Radiance and Mariner ships and therefore feel sufficiently-qualified to compare Royal against our Princess experiences (Pacific, Emerald, Dawn, Sun and now Diamond). We had two nights' accommodation in Singapore at the Roxy Grand Mercure, well-positioned just off the East Coast Parkway. We hired a car in Singapore to do some out-of-town visiting (Kranji War Cemetery and some other locations), as well as making our own way around town. Avis provided our vehicle (a very comfortable Volvo S60) and also had E-Tags available for purchase, which greatly simplified our travel-arrangements on Singapore's toll-roads. Check-in for the Diamond Cruise had been switched at late notice from the Singapore Cruise Terminal to a building in Republic Road. There was no reason circulated in the advices from Princess, and some CCs mentioned in the pre-cruise Roll Call that this was near the end of the Singapore Marathon Finish Line (being held on the same morning), so already some alarm-bells were starting to ring. We had booked a taxi-transfer from Singapore Limousine Cab for transfer from the Roxy to Republic Road - the transfer was very efficiently carried-out and our driver made his way through every obstruction all the way to Princess's reps standing outside the check-in building. We deposited our luggage and went to the first floor of the check-in building. I should say at this point that DH's mother needed wheelchair assistance which had been booked by our TA. One of the reps quickly fetched a wheelchair and accompanied us to the check-in location upstairs. After check-in, we sat....and sat.....and sat......after about two hours, a lady wearing a Princess Cruises polo-shirt advised that "shortly" we would be boarding buses for transfer to the Diamond. More time passed without advices from anyone. The hall was very, very full by now. Then, an Australian passenger stood in the front of the hall and yelled that everyone should come and board the buses now according to their boarding-pass numbers and that he would personally "headbutt" anyone who tried to jump the queue. So, what happened? Just about everyone charged for the exit-doors of the hall. DH's mother, in the front-row of the hall-seats was swamped by hoards of passengers. DH asked the Singaporean reps who was in charge, nobody knew who was supposed to be supervising this process. DH found a ship's Communications Officer on the premises and this Officer very kindly retrieved DH's mother from the crowd and pushed her to an elevator, then assisted her on to a transfer-coach. The place was completely out of control. The arrangements that Princess used at this location were shameful and amateurish in the extreme. There was no clear supervision or control in place at all. The venue had no public-address facilities whatsoever, and the logic in staging the check-in at the middle of one of Singapore's biggest events of the year was beyond belief. Was there no other suitable venue in Singapore? Why was the Cruise Terminal abandoned? We were never told. We did hear other anecdotal tales of passengers whose taxi-drivers dropped them some distance from Republic Road, not wanting to take-on the Marathon obstructions, therefore apparently leaving those passengers to drag their luggage through the heat and humidity to the check-in location. Having eventually arrived aboard the Diamond, we were very pleased with our BB balcony-cabin (E732, situated on the rear of the ship). The rear cabins have a very generous 'overhang' which makes for a very good shelter from the elements (sun or rain). DH's mother settled in well to her mini-suite on the starboard side. We were very happy to renew acquaintances with our steward Hector, whom we had known on Emerald Princess in the Caribbean in 2008. Diamond departed from Singapore some hours late, but it was time that was easily made-up enroute to our first ports in Vietnam some days later. Our route went through a Force 7 Monsoon between Singapore, Vietnam and Bali and made for interesting sea-days, we quite enjoy stormy days on the water. Our evening meals were in the International Dining Room, food was very good indeed and our wait-staff were superb. Our Head Waiter (Jun) was easily the best Head Waiter we have encountered on any cruiseship. A real professional's professional. The very personable Maitre D (Rui Pereira) was always visible in all the ship's dining-areas, a most charming man who also obviously manages his responsibilities very professionally. Unfortunately, one International Dining Room breakfast experience on a sea-day between Singapore and Vietnam stood-out. On this morning, we were seated at a table for 8 (all seats taken). Our orders were taken, and 50 minutes later none of us had received our meals. After a complaint to the Head Waiter on duty, all our meals arrived within a few minutes. In plain terms, our orders had not been relayed to the kitchen and our entire table had been forgotten-about. We only walked around the immediate dockside areas for the Vietnamese ports of Phu My and Nha Trang. We did not go to any of the towns in the regions. For Diamond's stop at Bali, the ship anchored at Benoa Harbour with disembarkation by tender. For those with independent arrangements, we were told to collect tender-tickets from the Deck 7 Explorer's Lounge. We arrived at the Lounge at 630AM and it wasn't until about 730AM that others started to arrive. By 8AM, there were no spare seats in the Lounge. At about 810AM, someone decided to stand next to the tender-ticket desk in the Lounge, which in turn prompted a rush for the desk by most people there. As a result, the desk was surrounded on all sides by people to quite a depth. Some minutes later one of the Assistant Cruise Directors arrived and said that he didn't know who had arrived first, so he was going to start handing out tickets from left to right to whoever was nearest. Luckily for us, this meant DH was one of the first to receive tickets. But you can imagine the distress that this caused elderly and not-so-mobile passengers. The process was very, very poor and simply not good enough. The incident was material for talk on the ship for the remainder of the cruise. There has to be a better way, whether someone is rostered to sit at the Lounge from 6AM to distribute tickets or whatever. The way that it is being currently done is disgraceful, we cannot believe that there is not a better way to do this disembarkation process. After arriving ashore, we hired a Balinese and his air-conditioned vehicle to take around to some places that we particularly wanted to revisit, having previously been to Bali in 2000 and 2001. Last tender from Shore to the ship had been advertised for 430PM (we arrived aboard at about 330PM); at 650PM, we were still watching passengers and gear being brought from ashore. We hired a car in Darwin from Europcar to do some private sightseeing as DH had lived in Darwin as a boy during the 1960s and early 1970s. Some spectacular electrical-storms lit the Darwin sky at dusk as Diamond sailed away into the Arafura Sea enroute to the Barrier Reef. This is a very special part of Australia and the waters around it have an awesome aspect of their own. Sailing around the high tip of Australia at Cape York was a great memory, and the commentary from the Ships PIlot through the Barrier Reef was exceptional. Tender-disembarkation at Port Douglas was less of a nightmare than Bali had been. We again hired a car (Thrifty, on this occasion) to do some private exploring. In the seven hours we had available to us, we managed to get to Mossman, Mareeba, Atherton, Kuranda and Cairns. 350 kilometres for $107, plus petrol before returning the vehicle. Coach-transfers to Cairns for a do-your-own-thing experience were $39 per person. That night was DW's 40th birthday. We did the Chef's Table experience, which was probably the highlight of our travel-experience on this trip. An absolutely superb evening which started with pre-dinner champagne and delicious nibblies in the galley whilst the kitchen-work went on around us, thence to the Santa Fe Dining Room for an 11-course gastronomic experience that was of 6-star quality. We were personally waited-on by the Maitre D and Executive Chef Reggie. They stayed with us for the duration of the meal, not just for a short few moments early in the piece. The staff made a special fuss of DW, presenting her with a gigantic birthday cake. Ever felt like the Michelin Man? We did, that night! We would recommend this experience to anyone. $75 a head, but to us it was worth far, far more than that amount. Airlie Beach, our next timetabled port, was abandoned due to rough weather (tender-port). We had no firm arrangements for this port, so were not much inconvenienced by the bypassing of Airlie Beach. Instead, Diamond made a gentle progress through the Whitsunday Islands with expert and interesting commentary from the Reef Pilot on the area. Docking at Sydney's Circular Quay was bang on the dot of 6AM on the morning of 22 December. We were pleased to see that evening that Sydney's Channel 10 showed footage of the Diamond sailing up the Harbour to the Quay. Embarkation was very smoothly done from our perspective. Captains Circle Hostess Dawn kept the Platinum/Elite Disembarkation Lounge well-informed of the process. Some days prior to Sydney, DW got sick ('Upper Respiratory Tract Infection'). We sought help from the ship's medical staff as soon as DW's symptoms became apparent. We had been concerned for some time prior to DW becoming ill from the number of passengers who cough quite strongly in public areas (especially the buffet) without covering their mouths, also those passengers who refuse to clean their hands when entering the buffet. So, we were extremely angry but not surprised that the very poor hygiene of others was now claiming our health. Some days out of Singapore, DH saw an Australian push past the Filipino female employee manning the buffet's entrance, refusing to wash his hands. DH challenged the man, who said that "washing did nothing to protect anyone and the Filipino girl didn't know what she was talking about, anyhow". How do you deal with an attitude like that from a passenger, apparently shared by many others? We have seen horrific hygiene-habits on other ships and Lines, but this is the first time that it has directly impacted us (in spite of all precautions by us), this is why we are now mentioning it here. Other, more hair-raising, stories were told to us by various staff throughout the ship. Passengers who habitually blow their noses with the dining-linen (how sickening is that?). Spitting by passengers on the carpet, shamelessly. So, how does a cruiseline police or try to control such dreadful behaviour by its passengers? We saw little evidence of any public signage encouraging passengers to be mindful of hygiene in the public rooms, if not at least the food-areas. Even a discreet information-leaflet placed in passengers' cabins on commencement of the cruise might be useful. By the last three days of the cruise, people were coughing and hacking everywhere publicly. It appeared to us that a significant proportion of passengers now had something wrong with them. We did write a note regarding this matter of poor hygiene by passengers and submitted it at the Pursers' Desk with a request for a response, but no response was ever received by us. Cruise Critic events aboard the Diamond were very well-patronised. A good turnout of senior crew-members attended the Meet & Greet. The lunches that were held in the Pacific Moon Dining Room were very enjoyable. Much gratitude from us to Tanya, Violet and Gai for their brilliant record-keeping of who was where and delivery of notices for the CC events. We were very glad to meet up with Cruise Critic 'Midland Tourist' from Canada - we had sailed with them the previous month on Sun Princess for a Sydney - New Zealand - Sydney cruise. We came away from this cruise with the definite view that Princess is a jaded product. We don't believe that the ship's crew themselves are responsible for the embarkation debacle at Singapore, and maybe not for the extremely poor disembarkation by tenders at Bali. These things are usually determined at a corporate level, with the operators (i.e. the Captain and crew) being told to "make it happen" within the parameters of the local environment. We also believe this to be true of signage and policy for on-board hygiene concerns. Are Princess worried about hurting peoples' feelings by publishing some leaflets reminding of some basic courtesies? Or better to pretend that some problems don't exist? We want to emphasise that we have scored the 'Dining' option of our experience as a 5 - this is in recognition of the fantastic food and service that we received for our evening meals in the International Dining Room. Our other experiences (especially buffet) would have most likely scored a 2. We want to mention the daily Wake Show each morning. The interaction between Cruise Director Warren and Assistant CD Elaine was brilliant. They should put these shows onto DVDs and sell them. Diamond's Captain Bob Oliver provided informative and interesting announcements throughout the cruise (not just the midday updates), and the ship's crew from all divisions appeared to be very disciplined. There are passengers who stay loyal to a cruiseline purely for the level of benefits that they have accrued. We have Platinum level membership with Princess but would be hesitant about again sailing with Princess ships unless no other passage were available for the region we wished to travel in. There is that 'something' which is lacking with Princess Cruises these days, but appears to us to be at a Santa Clarita corporate level. We have tried to substantiate these concerns in this review, and also in our e-mailed post-cruise survey for Princess. A ship can only operate in the way that company policy dictates it. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
After seeing the service and food quality decline on Carnival over the last few years, we asked our travel agent for a recommendation. She suggested that Princess was the one that seemed to be keeping up their standards. Too bad it ... Read More
After seeing the service and food quality decline on Carnival over the last few years, we asked our travel agent for a recommendation. She suggested that Princess was the one that seemed to be keeping up their standards. Too bad it wasn't true. Some good and some bad experiences on this ship. GOOD: Airport transfers and embarkation process were smooth and fast. Cabin and cabin steward service were both wonderful. We were automatically upgraded to a nicer cabin that the one we booked which proved wonderful during rough seas on the last night of the cruise. BAD: TERRIBLE service and variety of foods in the buffet area. Disembarkation was also a nightmare running about 2 hours late while sitting in a crowded lounge area. Also, I still can't believe the cruise lines haven't figured out that non-smokers gamble too. PUT IN A SMOKE FREE CASINO -- one of the empty lounges could easily be converted to this use. MARGINAL: Not too many entertainment options. Way too focused on getting you to shop at Diamonds International and the other shops where the cruiselines get a kickback. It kind of felt like one of those annoying time-share freebies after a while. Will I cruise again? Yes, definitely. Will I cruise with Princess again based on this cruise? Probably not. My bottom line is that Princess seemed like Carnival except you replaced the young crowd with a lot of retirees. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
I cruised on this ship two years ago. At that time, I heard complaints from several passengers that cruising with Princess was "not what it used to be." Most of their complaints seemed valid, and were centered around spotty ... Read More
I cruised on this ship two years ago. At that time, I heard complaints from several passengers that cruising with Princess was "not what it used to be." Most of their complaints seemed valid, and were centered around spotty service in the dining rooms and buffet seating areas. The food was considered merely average, and I did agree in that regard two years ago. Also, people said Princess was "cutting corners" almost everywhere. This time however, things were much better, and I didn't hear a single complaint from anyone. The wait staff in the dining rooms was far more friendly and motivated, and there seemed to be more servers. They almost seemed to be hustling back and forth as if possessed-- it was that noticeable. Additionally, the food was somewhat better. I had a couple of absolutely bland pork dishes, but everything else was pretty good. I imagine that the kitchen was operating at a frenetic pace, and my lobster and shrimp dinner was delivered undercooked, but I didn't make a fuss. In the buffet areas, plenty of staff was always available to seat us, pour coffee and clean tables. A word about the entertainment. Disappointingly, two of the production shows were the same shows as last time. They try hard, but don't expect Las Vegas quality. The comedian and hypnosis shows were fun. My only real complaint was noise in the cabin, apparently from above and both sides. This may be endemic to all cruise ships, but the walls and ceilings on this one are thin enough that people walking and slamming doors and drawers will likely affect your sleep. We needed to change cabins due to our overhead neighbors' heavy-footed 2 AM meanderings; fortunately, Princess was able to accommodate us. The new International Cafe was somewhat disappointing. I had expected special pastries and other goodies, and was willing to pay an extra buck or two, but they were all free and merely so-so, and most of them were available at the buffet at one time or another. I never tried the little sandwiches they offered. The ice cream stand (which last time cost extra) has been replaced with free soft serve (not worth eating, in my opinion). The bottom line? My 2010 experience on the Caribbean Princess was definitely better than my first. Considering the cost, the cruise was well worth it. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
My finance and I went on the Crown for a 7 day Western Caribbean cruise from Dec 4-Dec 11. Getting on was relatively painless and we were in our cabin by 1PM. Steward (Bong) was pleasant, not overbearing. The room was a decent size (gotta ... Read More
My finance and I went on the Crown for a 7 day Western Caribbean cruise from Dec 4-Dec 11. Getting on was relatively painless and we were in our cabin by 1PM. Steward (Bong) was pleasant, not overbearing. The room was a decent size (gotta love the Caribe balconies!) and mid-ship was nice. Food-We did buffets except for one lunch at the Wheelhouse (amazingly fast service), 2 lunches in the MDR, one night at Sabatinni's and one night at the Crown Grill. All were good, but the Crown Grill was amazing! We each had 4 lobster tails and our waiter kept bringing out more and more food. It was an exercise in excess! Everything was so so good and that meal was the highlight of the cruise. Service-No one was rude and no one was over-the-top excellent. When we asked for assistance, we were given it. Activities-We did trivia and bingo on board and both were well-run and quite amusing. We did not go to any shows but caught the entertainment in the atrium which was very good. Ports-We skipped Princess Cays and enjoyed an empty ship. Grand Cayman was a shopping day and Roatan felt like a waste of time. Without excursions, you were left in a tiny shopping area that was sterilized to the point of being boring. We walked to the beach at Roatan (no need to take the chairlift, it's an easy walk), which was nice, but you got the feeling they even imported the sand to make it look "prettier". Not my choice for future cruises. Cozumel we did the Passion Island excursion. Other than feeling like we were in the boat for a LONG time getting there and back, it was very nice. The buffet there was decent and the service there was better than on the ship. Ship-There was some rocking and rolling at the end of the cruise, but nothing out of the ordinary. Other passengers were a mix of older, families (not too many small children) and people our age (30s/40s). Crown is good shape...their clean-up after a few rain storms was quite impressive! We were last on the Royal and would say there are plusses and minuses to both a large and small ship. This was a nice relaxing time and the only suggestions I would have for Princess are: earlier hours at Skywalkers and rethink Roatan. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
From the moment we boarded till our last few minutes on board the Emerald Princess, we had an amazing times. Due to the horrible hotel we stayed in the first time we sailed on the Emerald last February and chose to leave that flee-bag ... Read More
From the moment we boarded till our last few minutes on board the Emerald Princess, we had an amazing times. Due to the horrible hotel we stayed in the first time we sailed on the Emerald last February and chose to leave that flee-bag hotel at 10 am and wait until boarding time, we discovered that Princess usually begins boarding around 11:00. So, this time, we made sure to arrive by 10:30. We were thrilled to find that we were in group 5 and by 11:30, we were on board. As soon as we got to our room, I called the dining line and requested to be seated at the Chef's Table. Later that day, we were notified that we were invited to the first of just two Chef's Tables being held during the cruise. Once the call was completed, we made our way to the Di Vinci dining room where we had the first of the many excellent meals we had in the various dining rooms on board. One of our goals was to see if the waiter we had on our last cruise was still on board but we soon learned that he was not. Since we had chosen Anytime Dining, we felt it important to find a good wait team during our first couple of days. Fortunately, this happened at our first dinner in the Michelangelo Dining Room. Adrian and Gabbo really went out of their way to make each meal special. And it turned out that they were also the wait team for the Chef's Table. Our cabin steward, Chris, also went above and beyond to make sure we had everything we could possibly need. Since we had just been on the Emerald last February, most of the production shows were repeats. The only new one for us was the Noel Coward song filled show. This was the only show that disappointed. It felt like the actors were just going through the motions. The plot seemed contrived and forced. We did see one other show, Motor City, and even though we had seen it before, the cast did a much better job on this. Tim Donovan was the same CD we had on our February Cruise and while he did a good job "keeping the trains on time," he gave the impression that he really did not want to be there. He appeared to be jealous of the comedians and tried too hard to try to be funny. Although he strived to be a bit off color at the English Pub Night, he came across as being flip, rude, crude, and forced. The CD staff seemed to be enjoying themselves much more than him. The shore excursions we booked through Princess were great. We chose to take the excursions that included snorkeling. Our first trip was a bit rough for first timers but the others were in good locations and the staff on all three were friendly, helpful, and fun. Due to the large number of kids on board (700), we were concerned about the bands of young people roaming the ship. I am not sure what the staff did, but my concerns were ill founded. What also helped was the Lotus Pool located in the forward part of the ship. It is geared towards adults. With no music, no activities, no bar, and the sign that read "Sanctuary, Adults Only," the area was populated by no one under 25. The pool, which housed a very useless Infinity Pool" and two hot tubs, usually had plenty of room. We were always able to find lounge chairs. The hot tubs were hot and the pool was nice and warm. The restrooms located just inside were a well kept secret. Since they are part of the spa facility, they were much nicer than the ones by the other pools. The only negative thing I can really say about the cruise was the dinner at Sabatini's- I am not sure if it had anything to do with the location in the aft of the ship (vibration of the propeller shaft) but I just didn't feel comfortable there. While the lobster was delicious, all of the appetizers seemed too salty. Maybe I was just comparing it too much to our Chef's Table experience! Thanks to Cruise Critic, I knew about the way to email friends back home. Using the Internet cafe and future cruise sales computers, we clicked on the E-Card link. Using this link, you can send an e-postcard to anyone! It was a great way to give the family and friends back home updates (and do a little bragging - hee hee) Overall, we had a fantastic time. On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this cruse a definite 9.8. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Flew into Ft. Lauderdale a day early from the Midwest to be on the safe side in case of a snow storm. Record lows in FL but since we had left single digit temperatures it seemed warm to us. We stayed at the Spring Hill Suites for several ... Read More
Flew into Ft. Lauderdale a day early from the Midwest to be on the safe side in case of a snow storm. Record lows in FL but since we had left single digit temperatures it seemed warm to us. We stayed at the Spring Hill Suites for several reasons. Free hotel stay with points, free airport pickup, free breakfast, free bus to cruise port. Nice hotel with a mall across the street to pick up forgotten items, wine and liquor. Eat at TGI Fridays and had appetizers with huge portions and drinks that actually had liquor in them. We arrived before noon at the cruise port. Never had an issue before and usually after 15 minutes were on the ship. Not this time. When they said check in was at 1 pm they meant it. Next time we will be platinum so no waiting. Yaa !! The first thing we did was dropped off our carry bags in our room and then checked out the ship. She is a beautiful ship all decorated for Christmas. The next couple hours at Crooners Bar we shared laughs and drinks with new friends. Greg the bartender was great keeping us happy with drinks. Princess Cay: Very nice Island not to be missed. Relaxed on the beach, eat, drank and listened to a great band. It was formal night, so we went back early and relaxed on our balcony before getting ready for the champagne waterfall and then to dinner. We had late traditional seating for 2. Our servers Darco and T something (sorry I don't remember how to spell his name) was attentive and fun. We really enjoyed listening to their stories and getting to know them. The food on this cruise was rather plain with little flavor compared to past cruises. Maybe the majority of people don't like a lot of seasoning or spicy food because of stomach issues, age or ? The first night I asked for Tabasco sauce and it was on the table for me every night after that. ? Sea Day: If you did not get on deck by 8am there were no chairs available. Princess needs to delicate people to remove at least the towels after a period of time. Once we found chairs we had a great day relaxing. Yes, there are always rude, loud people around, but no matter where you go that's a part of life. Don't worry what other people are doing or not doing. Ignore it and have fun. St Thomas: We decided to go through Princess and did the Champagne Snorkel Cruise. We did a catamaran tour not through Princess on our last cruise and loved it, so I think we had been spoiled. I was so disappointed in this tour. Weather was great, so why didn't we go to Trunk Bay like we were suppose to where the snorkeling is one of the best in St John's? The head (toilet) door didn't shut all the way and smelled really bad. FYI: For people who have a problem with climbing, the stairs to the head might be difficult to maneuver. Champagne was served in plastic solo cups. Why can't they get the plastic cups like Princess has that can be rewashed and used? Anyway, lesson learned. Next time for just a few dollars more, I will pay for a local tour. Later on that evening we heard the Midwest was getting 22 inches of snow with subzero temperatures. I can't think about that now, I'll think about it tomorrow.....can I have another El Mejor Margarita Greg? Dominica: Before leaving the ship we stopped at the International Cafe and picked up sandwiches. We had arranged an excursion with Bumping Tours. This was one of the best tours we have done. There was only one other couple with us and they were the nicest people from Canada. We had Gary and he was a great guide. We went to Titou Gorge, Sulfur Springs, Botanical Gardens, Trafaigar Falls and Champagne Reef. I want to go back to Dominica and take this tour again. Grenada: We had planned on going to the beach, but time went by way to fast. I wanted to buy 20 spice necklaces for family gifts. We ending up at the market a few blocks away and I found freshly made necklaces. You could really tell the difference in smell from the ones you could buy just out of the mall area and the ones at the market. Since this was an early port departure I had reserved the Ultimate Balcony Dinner to celebrate our Anniversary tonight. Words can't even start to explain how great this experience is. Dennis our server was fabulous and our food beginning to end suburb. We'll do this again on our next cruise. Bonaire: We had reserved an excursion with Woodwind. This was again a great tour with very knowledgeable people who truly care about the area. We had a special treat seeing dolphins and were told this was very rare. We also saw sea turtles, many different types of fish and coral. Aruba: For an anniversary present I booked a Deep Sea Fishing trip for my Husband. It was rather a disappointing day only catching 2 small fish. That wasn't the fault of the company we booked with, but I was very disappointed on their conduct. Smoke a cigarette, throw the butt into the ocean, open a pop bottle throw the top into the ocean, now repeat 20 times, and don't forget to ignore your customers on top of it. The high light was taking our catch to a local restaurant and having them prepare it. Great meal and service, but the most expensive fish dinners I ever ate. LOL. Did some power shopping after that with Hubby finding great prices on two watches and I purchased a Larimar pendant. Captain Cruise Circle party tonight that was once again nice to attend. 2 Sea Days: I wanted to eat breakfast in the dining room this morning because corn flake French toast .was being served. My hubby prefers the buffet court because he likes the omelets better there, so this was the only time we eat here for breakfast. Every day we talked about going to the gym, but we never did. Just have to make up for it when we get home. So on that note a couple hours have passed now and again we need to eat. I had heard how good the fish and chips were so we dropped in for that and a beer. Very good, must do this again tomorrow and yes we did. We signed up for the wine tasting and I must say it was a good choice. Wine was good, announcer kept it interesting and shot glasses alone were worth the price. Relaxed by the pool rest of the afternoon and dressed for last formal night. After dinner we signed up for "The Not so Newly Newlywed game" and were picked. Fun, funny and thought we did pretty good getting the questions right. Next we went to Skywalker's for drinks and dancing until ??? On the way back to our cabin....be very very quiet, we're hunting rabbits....... my poor head the next morning. By late afternoon all bags were packed and feeling sad this was our last night. A few notes: I had purchased a coffee card on my last cruise and able to use it on this cruise. Being an early bird I ordered room service every morning and sat on our balcony eating fresh croissants with marmalade and coffee until my Hubby woke up. Every day after leaving a port we would order room service or go to the buffet and enjoy snacks with cocktails on our balcony. Hardly any cigarette or cigar smoke noticed until the last sea day. I purchased a nice bracelet and ring on the ship. I found prices to be considerably cheaper on these particular items than in ports. If you have a complaint, bring it to someone s attention while you are on the ship. We had an issue we tried to overlook until we just couldn't deal with it any longer. It was quickly taken care of by Princess Management. We purchased future cruise credits while on the ship for our upcoming family reunion cruise. Once off the ship we rented a car and drove to Fort Myers where we would stay at the Embassy Suites. The hotel is located in a nice area and close to the airport. We checked in, drove to the ocean, took pictures, collected shells, back to the hotel, enjoyed 2 hours complimentary drinks and eat at the restaurant that served great steaks. Very nice ending to our great vacation. Next day flew to the cold and snowy Midwest and back to reality. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
While we thouroughly enjoyed our two weeks on board there were a number of areas that we felt Princess needed to improve on, we have detailed these below for the benefit of people weighing up taking this cruise. Just to paint the picture ... Read More
While we thouroughly enjoyed our two weeks on board there were a number of areas that we felt Princess needed to improve on, we have detailed these below for the benefit of people weighing up taking this cruise. Just to paint the picture we (a couple aged 29 and 32) are experienced travellers although this was only our second cruise, the previous one was with RCI. We visited 10 ports over the 14 days however I will only mention the ports where we booked tours. Embarkation - chaos, althought to be fair to Princess this was more the fault of the port authorities/customs. Once we cleared this area we were promptly issued with our cards and were on board promptly. The que outside was approximately one hour long when we qued however this fluctuated throught the afternoon - the only water station was at the top of the que which made no sense at all. Ship - while we had ready may comments about the ship being in poor condition we found no evidence of this. The staff were slow to clean the pool area and there were often tables with food etc left for too long but the interior was fine - no threadbare sheets or frayed carpets as others had mentioned. Cabin - Aloha deck, port side at the front of the ship. Well proportioned with plenty of storage space. Good size balcony. Bit more motion than other parts of this hip but nothing unbearable. Shower had good pressure and wasnt too small. Staff - in general we found the staff to be quite indifferent, our room attendant was pleasant but we got the impression that she was just going through the motions and was never really interested in our replies. Found personal items in our cabin from previous occupant and the glass door and balcony glass remained smudged until we cleaned it ourselves. We found that unlike our previous cruise many of the staff passed you without saying hello/good morning even where we initiated the contact - this was especially the case with the senior staff many of whom we felt had a poor attitude (chewing gum, sunglasses on indoors etc). We found some of the bar staff expecially poor and the barman at Explorers was particullarly bad, once he realised we were ordering cocktails he constantly ignored us at the bar and served drinks that required less preperation. he dining room staff were far better but I will review this under 'dining'. We also found the attitude of the captain (Philip Pickford) to be very poor, this opinion was shared by our table mates who were Platinum members. There was a staff entrance close to our cabin which he frequented and he never greeted any passengers instead walking around with his head down, he made little or no announcements updating passengers on weather or sea conditions. Most passengers lost all faith in him after a fire on the ship (caused by a passenger smoking in a interior room) when he did not put the passengers involved off the ship. Food - while the food was plentyful the quality on RCI was definetly better. The buffet lacked variety and there were very few themed days and after two weeks it became very repetitive. The food in the dining room was over complicated in our opinion and we thought in general it was a litte dissapointing and certainly lacked the wow factor. As 1000's have said before the pizza and burgers by the pool were very good as was the food at the International Cafe. Entertainment - this was also dissapointing. The Princess singers/dancers were dreadful and their attempt at Irish dancing was embarassing (not to mention the singers rendition of Danny Boy in tweed jacket abd green polo neck) as they were clearly not trained so they just jumped up and down to irish music. The comdeians were dreadful bar one guy who was from Canada who was funny for about half his show. The hypnotist was good fun but his show was repeated numerous times over the course of the two weeks and the format remained the exact same. Dining Room - we ate at the late sitting in the Palm dining room. The first week we were seated with another couple from the US who were great fun, the waiting staff were pleasant however we always felt rushed and we were always finished dinner by 2115 having only been seated at 2015 - in many cases our main course was waiting beside our table when we were still eating our starters and frequently people at the table were eating different courses. For the second week we moved table and again had great table mates - the dining experience here was far more relaxed and we were often still drinking tea/coffee at 2215 while chatting with table mates. As I have already nentioned the food in the dining room was over complicated and not as good as we expected. Facilities - we availed of the gym which is well equiped and the quiter adult pools at the rear of the ship. MUTS in our opinion is not a feature we would look for again - its too loud and disturbs too many people. In most cases there was very few if anybody watching what was showing and on most nights it was sports and not movies. Excursions - Bonaire: booked Woodwind snorkelling directly, great trip and saw numerous turtles. Dominica: booked tour with Bumpping Tours to Tito Gorge and waterfall plus suplhur pools - again excellent. St Lucia: took the cable car to the viewing platform and booked the Screaming Eagle Power trip which was brilliant but not for the faint hearted. St Lucia: zip lining through Princess, amazing fun and a great rush. Antigua: Stingray tour through Princess - good fun but a it commercial, still something that should be done if you havent seen stingrays before. General Comments - we had read about problems with passengers from San Juan and this was evident again especially during the first week when there were 1600 on board (500 the following week). There was nothing that bothered us too much but towards the end of the week there were a number of things I witnessed that grated with me - examples such as not holding the door open for elderly passengers in wheel chairs, charging into lifts before others had exited etc. As I said it did not effect us too much but other passengers complained frequently. We did enjoy our cruise but when booking our next one we will be looking to book a RCI cruise, I would also avoid sailing out of San Jaun during the holiday peroid again. Just a tip regarding the airport in San Juan - its a nightmare on cruise days so make sure not to book a early flight (I would suggest after 3pm if possible) or else arrange to stay an additiona night in SJ and avoid the stress. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
We booked in December to go on a Caribbean cruise with sea princess in January. We have cruised before with M.S.C, Celebrity and years ago with a cheaper tour operator around the Med. I would consider us to be very well travelled and ... Read More
We booked in December to go on a Caribbean cruise with sea princess in January. We have cruised before with M.S.C, Celebrity and years ago with a cheaper tour operator around the Med. I would consider us to be very well travelled and have spent time in Europe, Africa and an extensive time in the far east as well as the Caribbean. I was looking forward to the cruise as we had had a hectic time at home and were ready for a break. We flew with first choice and I was disappointed to see that it was this plane as we had had 2 horrendous flights with them in the past. The flight was excellent and cannot fault the crew or service. We arrived in Barbados to a swift transfer to the pier. We boarded swiftly and was soon in our cabin.It was an inside cabin all that I could get when we booked. I was on first examination a little disappointed I find that after that journey anyway it does not take long to be disappointed. The cruise just went better and better. Highlights for us were: Chefs table: please don't miss out on this for $75 each it is amazing value with the finest of food wines and service and a real insight into the working of the food preparation and feeling like you have been waited on like royalty. Movies under the stars: we loved this as something different. Wine: we spent a lot on wine on the ship our bar bill was of magnificent proportions but we were allowed and did bring wine on from every port. Coffee: word if warning if you like coffee bring a jar of your own as we did the coffee on board is awful. We wish there were tea and coffee making facilities in the room and lots of others felt this way too. The photos on ship are a really steep price if they lowered the price of these they would sell much more. We enjoyed any time ding and played Russian roulette with our dining companions sometimes a hoot and others losing the will to live but the latter less so. We are not keen on Tabago or Grenada and Jamacia means running the gauntlet through the throngs of tour sellers and the like. Aruba for diamond I was lucky that my husband treat me to a superb diamond ring here. On returning to the UK I have had it valued at double the price. Best cruise and in fact in the running for the best holiday ever. Would we cruise Princess again that would be a no hesitation yes. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
January 29, 2011 Western Caribbean cruise on the Crown Princess Background: This was our ninth cruise overall and the sixth in the past 20 months. The five previous recent cruises have been on Celebrity (3) and HAL (2). We are a ... Read More
January 29, 2011 Western Caribbean cruise on the Crown Princess Background: This was our ninth cruise overall and the sixth in the past 20 months. The five previous recent cruises have been on Celebrity (3) and HAL (2). We are a couple in our early 50's traveling with another couple of about the same age. I am a customer service manager by profession and therefore lapses in serving us (the customer) really annoy me. Conversely, I am as quick to praise excellent service. This review is in the form of a log, with a few random thoughts thrown in as I tried to keep it up during the cruise. If you just want the summary, scroll down to the end. Embarkation: We stayed the night before the cruise at the Homewood Suites in Dania beach. The room was very nice but breakfast a disappointment. Crowded and the hot food was cold. A quick cab ride brought us to the port about 10:20 AM. Luggage was immediately taken and we were whisked through security. It appears we were about the 45th or so to arrive who were not "Elite" as they sat us in rows. We were in boarding group one. Processing began at about 11:45 and within 5 minutes we were on board. Initial reactions to the Crown are that it is a beautiful ship. We are very impressed with the artwork and overall appearance of the ship. Our friends we were traveling with were in boarding group 2 but were on board within 5 minutes after we were. Upon boarding a string quintet was playing in the Piazza, we would see them many times throughout the cruise and always enjoyed their performance. After some cabin photos of our cabin A311, a balcony cabin on the Aloha deck (#12), we began to explore the ship. We had determined on cruise critic and it was confirmed in the welcome aboard Princess Patter that one of the dining rooms was open for an embarkation lunch. The Patter listed the times as 12:00 - 1:30 and we arrived at the DiVinci dining room about 1:00 PM. The person at the door tried to discourage us by saying that they had many back-to-back guests and they were reserving the DiVinci for those guests. After seeing our reluctance to retreat to the lido buffet, they welcomed us in. We are very glad we persisted as this was by far the best embarkation lunch we have enjoyed on any of our 9 cruises to date, and a promising start to this, our first Princess cruise. After lunch we wandered the ship some more and discovered the International Cafe. We also met our cabin steward and obtained a coffee card. The muster drill was the usual thing - Princess makes you bring your life jackets and only put them on at the end of the drill. After the muster our cruise critic group had arranged an informal sail away meet and greet and the aft bar. This was very well attended and this week the Crown was one of the earlier ships out of Port Everglades so we really enjoyed watching many other cruise ships follow in our wake. We were surprised that the beverage prices seemed as high as or higher than we have recently witnessed on Celebrity. We have fixed 6:00 PM seating and although had requested a table for 4 were seated at a table for 6. Our other dining companions are a very pleasant older couple. After the fabulous lunch perhaps our expectations were raised too high as dinner was not of the same caliber. I asked for an end cut of the Prime Rib and in 9 cruises this was the first time I have ever sent a dinner plate back to the galley as the meat was so tough to be inedible. Without my bringing it up, I heard the same comment from at least four others during the cruise (about this same Prime Rib, same dinner). It was quickly replaced with the Filet Medallions and they were adequate. The assistant waiter apparently has the job to up sell beverages and wine. There are no sommeliers in the dining room, a change from our experience on Celebrity and HAL. There is no dessert presentation (a tray with samples of each dessert) and we found that to be greatly missed. It's just not the same ordering off a menu and needing to ask "What is this exactly?" all the time. We found a great band in the Wheelhouse bar and were able to get in a dance. During our dance, however, someone cleared away my wife's special (alcoholic and expensive) coffee of the day and my Patter. We notified a waitress who replaced the coffee mixture (but the original came from the International cafe so it was not the same) and the Patter. We attended the welcome aboard show and found the 15 minutes of real entertainment in the 45 minutes show to be quite good. The other 30 minutes we could do without. What we did not know at the time is this was the only show where the Orchestra played live music which the singers and dancers performed to. The rest of the week the shows were essentially "Karaoke." After the show, we found our way up to the lido deck to check out the ten o'clock "Movie under the stars." The movie was not real good but the unique (to us) experience was fun. Popcorn, pizza, and ice cream were all nearby. The next morning we found out that the buffet had a seafood feast featuring rock crab claws, which had not been advertised. That would have been much better than the dinner we had! Sunday was a sea day. We began by getting good coffee at the international cafe (this will be a standard routine) as the standard coffee in the buffet or the dining rooms is as bad as you read on cruise critic. We then went to the buffet for breakfast. I ordered a ham omelet and it was okay. I also took some French toast, waffles, assorted fruit, and 2 slices of bacon. The French toast and waffles were mediocre, not warm, and rather hard. The fruit was good, and the bacon was extremely fatty. Next time we will try the dining room. After breakfast we headed to the adult pool by the spa. It was still early so no trouble getting loungers and we enjoyed the heated freshwater pool a great deal. One of the hot tubs was too hot, the other was nice. There were one or two other couples there with us early. Next we went for more good coffee, ran into our friends, and walked the promenade deck. We browsed through some of the shops and then retreated to our cabin to enjoy our verandah. Our cabin steward came to open our two bottles of wine and we enjoyed some wine on the balcony. At noon our cruise critic meet and greet was up in Skywalker's, not an easy place to find! About 50 of us finally did locate it though, and a good time was had by all. No officer or ship's representative attended. I found this bewildering as we had over 100 on our roll call list so expecting a 50% turnout, usually when 50 "Connected" people are meeting the ship's staff would want to welcome them. Today a "Pub lunch" was offered in the Wheelhouse bar. I went with my friend to enjoy adequate fish and chips. The ladies went to the international cafe for healthy salads, and brought them up to the Wheelhouse to sit with us. All four of us decided to go to that same pool. Now of course, no loungers were available. We noticed a couple packing up to leave and after asking they confirmed they were so we got two in the shade (I need shade). The ladies found two in the sun up on the sports deck so all were happy. Later in the afternoon we took advantage of the tea service in the DiVinci dining room. That had a live keyboard player who came over to our table and asked if we had any requests. This was a very impressive touch. Tonight is the first formal night. We attended our dinner and quite frankly have never been so disappointed in a meal on a cruise. As we entered the dining room we overheard someone saying there were Lobster claws on the buffet. I asked our waiter if we could possibly be brought some Lobster claws as none of the menu appetizers were appealing, and he said that was not possible, with a lame explanation that others could see and would ask for the same thing! Well - yeah - who wouldn't want them? I don't remember what our party ordered, but after leaving the 2 hour dinner all four of us agreed to go up to the Lido to see what was available on the buffet. Sure enough, the buffet did have Lobster claws, pre-cracked, with drawn butter available, and they were delicious. We sampled various other items from the buffet, and spoke with one of the buffet dining room managers who informed us that they would again feature Lobster claws on the second formal night. Lest I forget, for dessert in the dining room I ordered a "Make your own Sundae" and it was brought out to me wrong two times. I can understand one error, but two in a row? My customer service training is that if a customer gives you a chance to "Make an error right," triple check it before making the second delivery! Monday brought us to Grand Cayman. The four of us enjoyed a reasonably quick and good dining room breakfast and obtained tender tickets about 45 minutes after the all-clear. There was no wait and we were able to go directly to our tender. We took the public bus to Cemetery Beach and enjoyed the beach and snorkeling there. Took the bus back to Georgetown and after walking around a little and seeing Margaritaville, decided we had enough and headed back to the ship. We arrived back at the ship just in time to snag 4 shady loungers by the pool and MUTS. We got lunch from the buffet and the pool grille. I think the food at the pool grille is better as I ordered a hamburger cooked to order. We didn't really watch, but heard the soundtrack from Sherlock Holmes while we relaxed. We also enjoyed the pool and hot tub, not a bad way to spend an afternoon. After previewing the dining room menu, we all agreed to do the buffet. This allowed us to participate in some other activities including a DJ "Ballroom dance" session. We followed dancing by dinner at the buffet which was okay. After dinner we went to the Wheelhouse bar where we first took advantage of the after 8 PM "Power hours" for $2.99 drinks. The band is quite good and we were able to get in a few dances. This night there was late night (10:15 is late for us!) ballroom dancing to the orchestra. They are excellent and we stayed as long as we could. Our travel mates participated in the "Super deck party" held the same evening and had a very nice time. During the evening the CD announced that due to expected wind conditions our arrival at Roatan was being moved up to 8:30 AM, and departure would also be moved up. We hoped the 26 people signed up through CC would remember our contingency plans for a time change. Tuesday we woke early in order to be at the DiVinci when they opened at 7:30. This morning we had two wonderful, happy waiters (The "Double AA" team) who made breakfast a pleasure. During breakfast however the Captain came on and announced that after conferring with the local Pilot, a decision was made that docking in Roatan was too risky due to force 7 winds and we would bypass the port. The beautiful sunny skies teased us as we now proceeded at a snail's pace towards Wednesday's call in Cozumel. This was a great disappointment as Roatan was the primary port we wanted to visit on this cruise, having not been there before. We quickly finished our breakfast and taking all our gear with us went to the lido in search of shady chairs. None could be found that were not already "Reserved" in the shade. On a hunch, I checked the spa pool and found three loungers as yet unoccupied. I put down our gear and spoke with a friendly neighbor that I just needed to get things from my room and would be right back (We were back in 5 minutes). We enjoyed the pool during the morning and then a revised Patter schedule was published. The ladies went to a Zumba class while the men went to a movie in the theater. We enjoyed lunch in the DiVinci, met the ladies at the International cafe for coffee, and relaxed away the afternoon watching a second movie on this "Extra" sea day. A few notes at this point, not quite half-way through the cruise. The Crown is a beautiful ship, in some ways one of the nicest decorated we have sailed on. There are 14 passenger lifts. I am finding the lifts very annoying. Being on deck 12, we take the stairs to go to the Lido (deck 15) or Sun (deck 16). Going down to decks 5, 6, or 7, however, is 5 - 7 flights. It can take up to 5 minutes for a lift to show, as most often at least one lift from each bank of lifts is out of service. When you finally get one, they stop at every deck. We have been on ships with half to two-thirds the passenger count of the Crown that have 12 lifts. If we were unable to use the stairs at all (as some of the passengers are) then waiting for lifts would truly be a great inconvenience. Tuesday evening was dinner in the dining room and our waiter is starting to show some signs of personality. Dinner was okay but at least it moved along. We danced a few in the Wheelhouse and proceeded to the Princess theater for the show at 8:05. 25 minutes before show time and the only open seats were some folding chairs added to the ends of a few of the front rows. Once the lights went out the show was so compelling that I was falling asleep, despite the uncomfortable chair! Wednesday we again woke early as we arrived in Cozumel at 7:00 AM. Enjoyed breakfast in the dining room when they opened at 7:30 and went to Chankanaab Park. We enjoyed the beach and snorkeling at Chankanaab. Returned to the ship at about 12:30 for a quick shower, quick lunch from the buffet and pool grille, (buffet choices seemed very limited) and headed downtown for the afternoon. Back onboard about 3:45 and being quite exhausted from the day feel asleep in the coolness of the cabin. Awoke to find we had missed our dinner time! Our travel mates had the same affliction. About 6:50 we went to the DiVinci dining room and explained we had missed our dinner and they were kind enough to seat us. Kudos to the dining room manager as they did not need to allow us in. We learned that tonight was the "Chef's dinner" with a limited menu however there was also a secondary menu one could obtain. Dinner was okay, but again just adequate. We told our waiter we wanted to make the 8:30 comedy show in the Explorers lounge and he got us through dinner by 8:00. We headed straight to the Explorers to find it was standing room only with not a seat to be found. On this I have to give Princess an "F" for ship planning. The public rooms and theater are simply too small for the number of passengers on board. It is silly to need to arrive 45 minutes or longer before a show to get any kind of seat, when the show length is 40 minutes. This is not our idea of a relaxing cruise vacation. Thursday was a sea day headed towards Princess Cay. We slept in, wandered the ship in the late morning and ran into one of our traveling friends in Skywalkers, where we were drinking our International Cafe coffee before trying the "Princess links" mini-golf. The International cafe is one of the best things on the ship. Most of the staff there are very happy and always serve with a smile (there was one exception, a rude young woman who made it clear to everyone that this was her last week on the ship and she can't wait to get off). Vince is a showman at heart and likes to make the coffee a production; he is fun and always ready to please. The pastries at the cafe are also usually very good. After finishing our coffee we played mini-golf. The wind made it a challenge and often seemed to affect the play. However, this was something different and it was not crowded there on deck 19! Other than the cafe, we had skipped breakfast so we headed to the DiVinci for lunch. Seeing nothing that interesting on the menu two of us ordered the burger. The burgers are rather tasty however they contain a lot of salt. I asked if I could have one without added salt and the waiter explained they are partially prepared ahead of time so to custom make one would take more than 35 minutes. Salt it is. We were seated at a table for 8 and when the entrees were served found one of our table mates had a fried seafood combination of fish, scallops, and shrimp. We swear we didn't see that on the menu (it was there but called something completely different). The waiter was good enough to bring us one of those entrees to share. It was quite good and certainly better than the last few dinners! During our lunch, our traveling friends DW had an experience that regretfully seems to characterize the customer service (or lack of it) component of this cruise. She is an avid table tennis player, and the ship hosted a mixed pair's tournament. She was paired with an 84 year old gentleman who had been playing the game for 60 years. The young woman on the cruise director's staff began by stating "These are the rules" and when questioned as they were not the normal rules of the game, threw an attitude and said "This is my game and these are my rules and if you don't like it you can just leave." Anyway, they won their first match, lost their second, and were paired to play a final match with another couple. During the break the staffer went to the pool grille and brought back a chicken sandwich which she proceeded to eat in front of the playing passengers. We've certainly never experienced this before - cruise staff eating while they are supposed to be working? Apparently she really didn't want to be working as when our team was discussing with their next opponent how they would play she accused them of breaking her rules, told them they forfeited the game, and gave the medals to the other couple. Three repeated complaints and follow ups with the front desk brought three repeated promises that Sam, the CD, would contact them. They never heard from Sam. The staffer involved should be made to "Walk the plank." That afternoon, we watched a movie in the theater as no deck chairs were to be found anywhere. This is our ninth cruise and before this cruise we have never watched a movie on a ship; there is always so much to do! Princess does not enforce its unoccupied deck chair policy and people go to the deck at 6 AM, "Claim" deck chairs, and do not release them until late afternoon. This was the second formal night and our dining room servers are becoming more personable. Actually, the assistant waiter has been great all week. He is also the greeter at the DiVinci for breakfast and lunch and always has a good word to say and a warm smile. We remembered him especially at the end of the cruise; this is also his last week on board. The lobster tonight was okay, but drawn butter was served by the wait staff and no cups were made available. After dinner we enjoyed some dancing in the Explorers (dinner was faster tonight and we got there 50 minutes before the comedy show) and the ship's orchestra is very enjoyable. The comedian was okay. After the show, we went up to the buffet for lobster claws. The claws are some work as they were not completely split; however, they seem to taste better than the dining room lobster tails. Drawn butter was available in small cups in the buffet (so why not in the dining room?). Next we went to get changed and tried to watch MUTS as it was showing "Wall street" which we wanted to see. This was the late show and no one came around with blankets. We stayed about an hour but found that it was difficult to hear the dialog. We thought it was because we sat on the side but one of our traveling friends sat immediately in the center and had the same experience. It was quite windy and he conjectured that the wind was affecting the sound. In any case, we became chilled and called it a night. Friday is Princess Cay day! We met for breakfast at 9:00 as the ship was anchoring. We obtained our tender tickets at 9:40 and were on the island at 10:30. I thought it took a long time first to get on the tender and second the tender bopped around a while in the ocean waiting for a spot they could tie up. On Princess Cay we found another ship's employee who needs to walk the plank. There are several large signs "Welcome to Princess Cay." These are not copyrighted backdrops like they use on the ship for their formal portraits; this is a SIGN. A ship's photographer was anchored directly in front of this sign. He had no current passengers looking for him to take their photo. When asked to step aside so we could take a photo, he refused and said "Not while I am here." What is with these Princess employees? They are either really really good or really really bad. This is our ninth cruise but first "Private island" experience. We really enjoyed the Cay. I did a lot of snorkeling. No large fish but the area is shallow and there were hundreds of fish hidden among the rocks and coral. The lunch served on the island, even though the food came from the ship, seemed to be better than on the ship. Everything is very conveniently located and we wished it was a longer stop. Last tender was 3:00 so we arrived in a very long line to board a tender back to the ship at 2:00. 25 minutes later we were on a tender. Upon arrival on board, we went to the spa pool and used the hot tub. No chairs were available (no surprise there) but we didn't need chairs. The farewell dinner was the best dinner all week. Finally a good menu selection of both entrees and desserts. Plus, a baked Alaska parade. I like the way Princess did the baked Alaska. Our waiter cut it up right on our table and served a large section to anyone who wanted some. We all went to the Wheelhouse for music and dancing. The band took a one hour break which we used to pack up, and then met one last time back at the Wheelhouse. We were not sure we would see each other in the morning so we said our goodbyes. Saturday morning we went to the DiVinci at 6:30, enjoyed breakfast at a table for two, and said farewell to our assistant dinner waiter who was working his last meal on board. We gave him a special goodbye and headed back for the last time to our cabin. We got our entire luggage together and noted that disembarkation had just begun. We had walk-off, "Express 5" disembarkation and snagged an upward elevator as all the downward ones were filled. We were off the ship before 8:00 AM and through immigration by 8:45. Princess seems to have embarkation and disembarkation down pat; the only delay was that immigration had only two customs officers on duty. While we were in line two others arrived, and once they had 4 the lines moved well. There is much said on the cruise critic boards about smoking. We found as long as we avoided the casino it was not an issue. Someone within a few balconies of us would occasionally have a cigarette, but it was never so bad that it caused us to retreat to our cabin, and my DW if quite sensitive to smoke. We found the comfort of the bed to be mediocre at best, and we generally like a firm mattress. In summary, I would grade Princess as follows: Activity schedule - B-, (however, cannot participate in things when you can't get in the room.) Customer Service - F Enforcing policy (deck chairs) - F Entertainment; main theater - D Entertainment; other - B+ Food - D Princess Cay - A- Public rooms - F (too small for the number of passengers on board) Ship's dEcor and maintenance - A Stateroom - B (Would be an A but the bed is not very comfortable) Overall - D+ Would we sail with Princess again? Not likely. We much prefer the food and service on Celebrity and HAL. On both of these lines, we can arrive at a show 5 minutes before show time and have never had trouble finding a seat. The dining room service on both is two steps above our Princess experience. We have never faced offensive ship employees on those lines. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Review - Crown Princess January 8-15, 2011 Itinerary: Ft. Lauderdale, Sea day, Grand Cayman, Roatan, Cozumel, Sea Day, Princess Cay, Ft. Lauderdale This was our second cruise with Princess. Grand Cayman and Cozumel we'd ... Read More
Review - Crown Princess January 8-15, 2011 Itinerary: Ft. Lauderdale, Sea day, Grand Cayman, Roatan, Cozumel, Sea Day, Princess Cay, Ft. Lauderdale This was our second cruise with Princess. Grand Cayman and Cozumel we'd visited before, but Roatan we hadn't. Princess Cay we've also visited before. The Ship - Crown Princess. It's beautiful. Some minor wear and tear but well maintained for all that. The Ports: Grand Cayman - We took the Reef and Wreck Snorkel tour and I was extremely disappointed. The reef was a minimum of 6-8 feet below us making for no close up viewing. It was pretty, but I didn't get any neat photos. The staff of the boat we were one were very funny though and we did enjoy them and the story of the wreck. Roatan - Extremely expensive, but GORGEOUS snorkeling. We ended up renting a car and driving to the West End for part of the day. We'd probably have been better off taking a ship tour there. The snorkeling however, made all of it worthwhile. We saw some gorgeous corals, and the usual mix of beautiful fish. The water was so very clear. Cozumel - I was disappointed here. The weather didn't cooperate and it was rainy which unless there's been a change of command from God to Princess Cruises, they are not at fault in this. We decided to walk about town. It was...ugly. Barkers in the street impeding progress and very aggressive about getting you into their shops. There were a couple I might have enjoyed browsing but was so turned off by the hard sell I didn't enter. We ended our day with a lovely little horse drawn carriage ride back to the port and spent the rest of the day amusing ourselves on board. Princess Cay - The weather was nice if cool. It was 68 degrees but the water was 77 degrees. Cool, but not cold. The benefit to the weather is that there were very few people in the water and the snorkeling was amazing! On Board Ship - The Horizon Court breakfast buffet was very so-so the first 2 days and then they seemed to get it together and the rest of the week was pretty good, although they never did get the hashed brown potatoes right. We chose anytime dining for dinner and our wait staff the first 2 days couldn't get anybody's order right. Once you got them straightened out with who was to get what the food was delicious. We finally found a staff that worked for us and from there out we enjoyed dinner tremendously. We like sitting with a group or near others and conversing with them. We met quite a few different people we enjoyed very much and saw around the ship and on excursions the rest of the week. The photographers were horrible. We posed for formal portraits the first sea day and one was marginally acceptable although we didn't buy it. Some of the candid shots on the gangplank and such were okay but I decided I take better photos overall than they did. The Casino - UGH. The penny slots were terrible. Very few with nice free spins or stacked wilds. There were more "traditional" slot games - bars, cherries, etc but I find those extremely boring. The payouts were pretty stingy too. There were very few games where you could actually play only 20 cents at time. You either played 40-60 cents, or you could only play a few lines. The Staff - I do have to say the staff on board were AWESOME. They never failed to greet you or at least smile, and if you sat down anywhere somebody showed up nearly instantly to see if you wanted or needed anything. Our Room Steward must have ESP or something. The man was truly amazing. If we needed something I swear he'd anticipated me and had it. He showed up just when we needed him, and otherwise we never saw him. He always had time to ask about our day if we passed in the hall. I miss him already. Shows - We saw one comedian - he either hit it or missed it entirely. Overall he was pretty good. We also saw the hypnotist show, which I enjoyed and my husband didn't believe. She didn't truly embarrass anybody and some of the things she had them do were really clever. Some of the entertainment in the Plaza was cute too - jugglers, staff demonstrations (the martini demonstration was just fun!) and musicians. There was something going on there most of the day. Other notes - The elevators remain my secret entertainment on board. If there are just one or two people in them you can have a really fun short conversation and nobody fails to speak. If they are crowded you can truly have fun. I once asked "Who's from the US?" and 4 or 5 people raised their hands. "Who is not?" And nobody moved. I was like Okay, the rest of you are from Mars or something, but obviously "not from around here." Try it next time you're cruising. Ask what they did that day or what was their favorite activity so far. You never know what response you might get. This trip I had occasion to visit the medical center - nothing serious, just an earache. The staff were fabulous. And funny. Got it resolved fairly quickly and was able to fly home pain free. (You really do not want to fly with an ear infection if you can avoid it!) I remain in awe of Princess's ability to move large numbers of people efficiently and with as little pain as possible. The day we visited Princess Cay however, one woman came down in the elevator in her little electric cart. The minute the doors opened she started yelling at the staff about how dare they close the 2nd tender embarkation and why wasn't the line moving (people were disembarking from the tender) and this was disgusting and she was going to complain LOUDLY. I think she's one that would have complained no matter what was going on to be honest. I know she didn't get on our tender so I suspect she didn't even intend to go over she just wanted to complain about something. I was rather embarrassed for her to be honest. Later I wished I had stood up to her and told her what an A$$ she was making of herself. Usually I have no problem speaking up in those situations. I admired the crew for keeping their composure by the simple expedient of mostly ignoring her after telling her they were moving things along as fast as they could. My husband took the Ultimate Ship Tour this cruise and is still talking about it. I'd have been bored to tears so I relaxed with my book and some short naps, and he went off and learned about the bridge, the water filtration, the engines, the laundry, the galleys (there are 9 on the Crown Princess) the print and photo shops, the theater, the sewage system, pretty much everything from top to bottom. He was supposed to visit the funnel too, but weather conditions didn't permit it. The 3 hour tour took nearly 4 and a bit. In summary - Overall a really awesome cruise with just a few bumps in it, mostly not Princess's fault. I'm definitely going back! If you wish to see my photos in a video format please feel free to do so: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leXxNgrSX2Y Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
We said good bye to Fort Lauderdale in the rain. While it dampened the experience the greeting and service of the staff made for a great start. We do anytime dining and found the experience worthwhile as we can choose to linger or go ... Read More
We said good bye to Fort Lauderdale in the rain. While it dampened the experience the greeting and service of the staff made for a great start. We do anytime dining and found the experience worthwhile as we can choose to linger or go direct to dining with no thought or worry about time. We had a meal in the Crown Grill where the food was terrible; we brought it to the staffs attention and because of cold soup and gristly meat they provided a 50% discount. We recommend Sabatini's - lots of food, great variety and wonderful attentive service. We were surprised by the first formal night coming on the same day as Princess Cays, we remembered it as usually being the first sea day. It was hard to get in the mood for formal night after being at the beach all day, so we were rather less than formal that night. Enjoyed the second formal night,however. We would have liked more variety shows but the entertainment was overall good. We did notice that there seemed to be a bit of cost cutting measures - no buffet at the deck party night and rather too many comedians instead of production shows, but nothing we couldn't live with. Princess Cays was a great way to introduce the warmth of the Caribbean to those of us from the North. Tendering was seamless and there was lots of time to enjoy the offerings. St Thomas is well written on and overall is enjoyable but I would have enjoyed it more had we docked at the traditional dock, but no sweat, Maggens Beach / Bay was not missed and the sun tan was on its way ... Dominica: this was not expected to be a great port so we selected the river tube expedition; I would recommend it even with the long bus ride along very windy roads; good job to the operators who provided a safe experience. Grenada was a very pleasant surprise - we arranged (negotiated) a private taxi for the 7 of us and saw the nutmeg plant and the forts. Shopping was convenient and the port and city was very clean and safe Bonaire was quiet and Aruba provided very warm temperatures. We found the local bus service on Aruba worthy as it took you along the famous beaches and it was easy to get off and there was frequent service back to towm. We enjoyed Palm beach. The next two days were sea days. We had no problem finding deck lounges and no trouble in the theater. We appreciated that this likely occurred as the average age of the cruisers were fairly high; expected on a longer cruise. We enjoyed the Crooners Bar and out favourite waiter kept us entertained with juggling and magic; good on rapport and fun! Our room steward "Romeo" was pleasant and we thank him for the attention he provided! Overall great job by everyone. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
This was the fourth cruise for my husband and I, 3rd with Princess. It was the first cruise ever for our 1 year old daughter and our in laws. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed this vacation from start to finish! The transfer from the FLL ... Read More
This was the fourth cruise for my husband and I, 3rd with Princess. It was the first cruise ever for our 1 year old daughter and our in laws. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed this vacation from start to finish! The transfer from the FLL airport to the ship was the only complaint I'd have, the ladies that ran it were rude but we weren't about to let anyone ruin our exciting family vacation so we brushed it off and kept smiling! Boarding the ship was fast and easy! We had a mini suite that we shared with my father and our laws had a mini suite as well. We loved the rooms and it was a perfect choice for traveling with a baby. Our room attendant went above and beyond to make sure we had everything we needed for our baby, including always making sure we had milk in the fridge for her and that he always placed her stuffed animals in her crib when he turned down the sheets, it was a great touch! We were VERY relieved and pleased with how safe the balcony was for little ones and we enjoyed a lot of time out there! Our waitress at dinner (first seating dinner) was Meow, I'll never forget her! She was SO amazing. Made us look forward to dinner every night! Food was delicious. Having a small baby, we didn't get to see many shows onboard but my in laws loved them, especially the comedian. My husband LOVED that they showed the big football games on the MUTS screen and that worked very nicely. We had the best experience with crew members, many of whom had children at home that they missed and they loved playing with my daughter to fill the void. The ports and excursions we chose were amazing. My husband and I got a couples massage on the front of the ship and it was the most amazing experience. We have already booked our next cruise on the same ship and are counting down the days until we leave!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
GETTING THERE IS HALF THE FUN We live in Northern California and traveled on Amtrak rather than have to "endure" another commercial flight. The Amtrak San Joaquin train starts in Oakland and runs to Bakersfield. An Amtrak ... Read More
GETTING THERE IS HALF THE FUN We live in Northern California and traveled on Amtrak rather than have to "endure" another commercial flight. The Amtrak San Joaquin train starts in Oakland and runs to Bakersfield. An Amtrak bus then goes over the Grapevine and all the way to Long Beach / San Pedro. We came one day early and got dropped off right in the Queen Mary parking lot for a stay on that beautiful ship before our cruise. The next morning we rode over to pier 93 in their town car. For the return trip, we chose early debarkation, carried off our luggage and caught the free shuttle in front of the terminal which took us right to the Amtrak stop on the adjacent pier 95. Although it was pouring rain during debarkation, we were able to wait inside and keep dry. The Amtrak bus arrived at 9:05 am and we were back in Modesto by 5:00 pm. We could not have driven back much faster, and the train ticket was a less expensive than gas and parking. EMBARKATION We arrived around 11:00 am and quickly passed through the boarding process and were in our cabin before noon. One thing we really appreciate is having immediate access to our room. I have been on other cruises lines that herd everyone with all their carry-on luggage directly to the buffet, restricting access to staterooms until later in the afternoon. STATEROOM We had a restricted view stateroom located on Emerald deck 8, which is just behind the row of lifeboats. Our booking status was restricted view with no specific room selection, but I couldn't have chosen better as our window was located between two of the lifeboats, essentially providing an unobstructed ocean view. There was an armchair located next to the window that was perfect for sitting and taking in the view. We both enjoyed the walk-in closet with adjoining self-contained bathroom. I liked the floorplan; it was actually possible for two people to get ready at the same time. LIFE ON BOARD We have heard a lot of talk about how it is less expensive to go on a cruise ship than to live in a rest home. This particular cruise was evidence of that. There were probably 10 - 15 people with motorized carts, another 15 - 20 in wheelchairs and a similar number with walkers. Some places looked more like assisted living than a cruise. More power to them, I say, for getting out and going places. The best hangout on the ship, as far as I am concerned, is the SkyWalker Lounge. That non-standard rear spoiler on the back is the best vantage point on the ship. Not only do you get views from the 18th deck, there are usually very few passengers up there. Many folks just never bothered going up there. We found it to be a great quiet place to read or just sit and contemplate the vast ocean view. I liked going up there after breakfast with a book and a cup of coffee. The Elite Class had hors d'oue'vres and drinks up there most afternoons. Friends of Dr. Bob and the Cruise Critic group had gatherings there as well. I mention this hangout with reluctance, because I don't really the word to get out very much. I hope it will be as sparsely populated up there the next time I take this cruise. My wife and I enjoy an occasional libation and there were just about enough complimentary drink events on this cruise to keep us happy. Free drinks were available on all three formal nights. Sure helped to keep my bar tab down. SPECIAL EVENTS Super Bowl Sunday was very appropriately handled with big screen presentations on every available large screen. Nothing like watching larger than real life players in the big game on the open air jumbo screen. The Renewal of Vows ceremony held on Valentine's Day was a really nice extra. They provided veils for the ladies and bow ties for the men that fit nicely with our Hawaiian clothing. The atrium was filled with at least 200 couples in a ceremony presided over by Captain Calabrese. And all who signed up were provided with a special certificate commemorating the occasion. The entire Valentines Day was handled in a most "Love Boat" way. I appreciated the reasonably priced flowers that could be ordered for room delivery to that someone special. LIBRARY One of the few low marks I would give this cruise is for their Library. This library is more of an afterthought along one wall of the computer room. It consists of a total of twelve shelves, which are locked up 20 or more hours each day. There was no check out or check in procedure in evidence, with emphasis by the staff given to the computers (a revenue source) instead of books. We visited the library soon after the first buffet only to find a large pile of unshelved books -- obviously the returns from the previous trip -- and the shelves securely locked. That pile quickly diminished as more passengers came in and picked through it looking for something to read. After this initial book grab, it was difficult to find much of a selection. This library did not provide much. No real reading area with the seating taken by computer users, a very restricted selection of books for 2600+ passengers, and minimal staffing. No daily crossword or sudoko puzzles were provided. There was one attempt at organizing a literary discussion group. Copies of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" were passed out at one point to the first 15 passengers who happened by. One afternoon on the return voyage the "book discussion" was led by a crew member who read questions from a sheet of paper. The person leading the discussion had never read the book and seemed mostly concerned about collecting the copies that had been distributed (but only got about half of them back). One would assume that on a cruise with this many days at sea, a lot more attention would be given to providing one of cruising's traditional amentities. I did see a lot of people throughout the ship reading, so the interest was definitely there. Just be sure to bring your own books if you plan on doing much reading. LIFE ASHORE Hilo -- we rented a car and drove to all the places on the Volcano National Park tour for about 1/3 of the cost. A shuttle picked us up right at the end of the pier and whisked us to the airport car rental desk. All the rental agencies ran out of cars, so it is a good idea to reserve your rental car several weeks before the cruise. Honolulu -- plenty of local buses, the trolley tours and lots to do in downtown Honolulu and Waikiki. The local bus to Waikiki costs $2.50, but you can also get there free on the Hilo Hattie shuttles. Take the Hilo Hattie shuttle to the downtown store and you can then board a different free shuttle out to Waikiki. Nawiliwili -- another car rental day for a trip to the North end of Kaua'i. I thought I could get to both Hanalei and Waimea Canyon, but it makes more sense to go either one way or the other and spend some quality time off the road. Driving times between destinations are a LOT longer that you might expect with two lane roads, one lane bridges, construction stoppages and occasional heavy, slow traffic. Lahaina -- we tendered in and spent the whole day wandering around in the downtown area. A few blocks off the main street is the Sugar Cane Train ride up to Kaanapali. You won't see a word about this train ride on board the Princess, as I expect the locally run company doesn't want to pay a cut to the cruise lines. This is a narrow gauge train pulled by a great little steam engine. Is a nice way to break up your shopping day. Ensenada -- with just a brief amount of time at this port, the ship tours seemed to be the best bet. We took the trip out to the La Bufadora blow hole. It was a nice ride through the town and around the bay. The blowhole was OK to see and there was a street full of shops and hawking vendors to check out. Back in town, there was another brief stop at the old casino / convention center featuring some local artisans and a free drink. OVERALL As far as I am concerned, a cruise such as this one to Hawaii is a much better deal than the traditional 4 or 5 night flight/hotel/car package. Our 14 day cruise cost about where most of those 5 day hotel packages start. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
The day we left for our cruise didn't start so great as we had an issue with our luggage and then almost missed our flight but luckily we made it. Once we got to the cruise terminal in San Juan we had another issue as my fiance was ... Read More
The day we left for our cruise didn't start so great as we had an issue with our luggage and then almost missed our flight but luckily we made it. Once we got to the cruise terminal in San Juan we had another issue as my fiance was born in Puerto Rico and he they changed the birth certificates there and had to run and get a newer version printed. (Lesson learned we will have a passport before next cruise!) We got on the ship at 2:00 and went to drop our carry-on at the room and to check out our extended balcony. Wow is all I can say I have never had such a big balcony it was great. Then we went up to the buffet and ate and just relaxed. Sailing at night was actually nice gave us a chance to relax and explore the ship and not have to rush. We had late dining in the Palm dining room which worked out great for the timing of the ports. The service on this ship was the best service of any line I have been on and I have been on a bunch. So attentive never had to ask for anything. Also the ship never felt crowded, there was never a line to get off or on the ship and that was amazing considering there were 3,200 passengers. We enjoyed the entertainment especially the comedian, not so much the hypnotist comedian. We ate at the Steakhouse and it was very good. Again the service was outstanding. In St. Thomas we went to Coki beach for a few hours. We have been to this port a few times already so it was just a day to relax. In Dominica we did Falls and Sulphur Springs tour with Princess. It was great very small group of about 12. Lot of hiking so if you are afraid of heights or can't hike for long would not suggest it but it was beautiful. Didn't like Grenada too much but if we went back we would definitely do a cruise ship excursion as we ventured out to the beach on our own and it wasn't a pleasant experience. Bonaire is the most beautiful island I have ever been to. Pictures don't lie this was as pretty as the pictures we saw. We did the excursion to Klein and that beach is absolutely beautiful. We also did some shopping in the local markets. Overall just loved it! Aruba was also so beautiful. We went over to Eagle Beach on our own and it was as beautiful as the pictures. Stayed for a couple of hours and then took a bus into town and had lunch at the Lazy Lizard and did a lot of shopping. Overall I have to say Princess is my new favorite cruise line. much more sedate than Carnival and loved every minute of it. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
My husband and I recently spent a week on the Crown in the Western Caribbean and I thought I'd share my view of the trip. We are an early 50's couple; it was my 4th cruise and my husband's first; previously I cruised with my ... Read More
My husband and I recently spent a week on the Crown in the Western Caribbean and I thought I'd share my view of the trip. We are an early 50's couple; it was my 4th cruise and my husband's first; previously I cruised with my sister, because my husband thought he would not like cruising. Since we live in the northeast we went to FLL the day before the cruise; we stayed at the Riverview Hotel downtown on Los Olas Boulevard. People bid to get rooms near the beach and cruise port, and initially I thought I'd like to be near the beach so that we could go there on the morning before the cruise. I got the room at a great price through a Priceline bid and was very glad I ended up downtown because it was cool on Saturday AM, so I would not have gone to the beach anyway. The upside was that we had a great meal right next door at the Cheesecake Factory, which was great because we got to the hotel a little late (almost 8:30 PM) so we didn't have to go in search of a meal. We have a Cheesecake Factory where we live and it's not where I would typically eat (I prefer small, local restaurants) and I was pleasantly surprised. In the morning I got a walk in on the boulevard and found a nice coffee shop for espresso and breakfast rolls. The hotel staff was fun and upbeat and we enjoyed them very much. On Saturday AM we got a cab from the hotel to the cruise port, and we had the driver take us to Total Wine, where I made a mad dash through the store getting a couple of bottles of wine and some beer to carry on. When we got to the port about 1 PM we got right onboard; it took about 10 minutes total to drop our bags with the Princess dock staff, fill out the medical clearance form, go to the check in desk and present our boarding documents and credit card, get our cruise cards, and board the ship. If there is one thing Princess does well it's embarkation and disembarkation at the beginning and end of the cruise (not so much at the tender ports, but more on that later). We had an aft balcony cabin on Caribe deck and this was the best cabin I have ever had. It was large and there was a suite to our right and no cabin to our left, so we had a view in two directions off the balcony. Even on our most rough periods on the ocean I didn't find this location challenging in terms of upsetting my stomach; there was a hum from the engines that we found pleasant. Since everyone comments on the beds I'll say we found it very comfortable and we sleep on a futon mattress at home; I thought the sheets felt like a high thread count soft cotton that were great at the end of the day or for a couple of lovely afternoon naps. I went to the sail away party to get the drink special (yummy mango and rum) and listen to the band for a bit; my husband and I sat on our balcony together for the actual sailing and enjoyed watching the port disappear and the sun going down over Fort Lauderdale. We were on our way! We had dinner in the buffet which was fine, but not memorable and went to the Welcome Aboard show, which was an overview of the entertainment of the week to come. We are not big on the production shows and this show served to convince us not to go to those events throughout the week (although the house band is quite good in all its incarnations), but we did enjoy the portion by comedian Miguel Washington and made a point to see him later in the week. We spent some time wandering the ship; I had been on the Caribbean Princess before and the two ships are similar, so it didn't take me long to get oriented, but it took my husband several days to feel like he knew the ship well. We went to sleep pretty early, but spent some time additional balcony time before we went to bed. Sunday was a sea day, and we went to the buffet for breakfast. I love the muesli cereal and ate a portion almost every morning; I wish I could get mine to have that creamy yet grainy texture plus crunchy (previously dried) fruit. We ate on the deck behind Cafe Caribe and it was sunny, but cool; this trip made me realize that other than Mexico, the Western Caribbean itineraries are too cool for me at this time of year. The first day is a straight run down the Atlantic around Cuba to Grand Cayman and of course it was sunny, but I needed a light jacket to enjoy the deck. We had a Cruise Critic gathering in the Adagio Bar, where we were provided with a location to meet only; guests purchased drinks of their choice. We did have a lovely surprise in the form of a drop in by Captain Nick Nash, who was very personable and happy to allow his picture to be captured. He mentioned that he used to get an invitation to CC gatherings aboard ship, but that he only happened upon our occasion while making the rounds of his vessel. I have arranged CC parties before and recall one occasion in which I took the time to send notes to a number of the staff the day before (the party was on a second full day with more time to get notes out) and we had a very nice turn-out including Captain Nash, some of the purser's and Cruise Director's staff and a senior chef. Certainly there was a member of the ship's staff who arranged for our party's location and she may have actually let Captain Nash know that we were meeting. It was fun to meet people that I'd been talking to for weeks, and to then see some of them throughout the ship as the week progressed. I had a massage planned for the afternoon, and my husband enjoyed the balcony and found his way to the first of many art auctions while I got the massage and spent some time in the hot tub and spa pool. This was our first formal night, and we enjoyed dressing up for dinner; I haven't seen my husband in a tux in a long while! We had dinner in the DaVinci dining room (anytime dining) and the place was in chaos getting people seated. We were given a buzzer and told the wait was about 30 minutes; after about 40 minutes wandering the art gallery we went back to the dining room because we had not been recalled yet. We found couples who had signed in behind us being seated when we arrived, and expected to be seated with them as we had volunteered to be seated with others. We were not asked to join the group however, and when the headwaiter returned to his station my husband questioned him; we were asked to step aside for a couple of minutes while he consulted his seating chart, then we were led to a table for two. His assistant for the evening, a young woman, seemed to be quite distraught over the wait people were experiencing, and the headwaiter admonished her for not following his direction; I thought he was a little bit harsh as she was clearly learning the role, but they both seemed stressed by the situation. I have read that recently Princess has allowed people who have chosen traditional dining to go to their assigned dining time or to drop in on the anytime dining if they missed or chose not to go to their assigned time (and therefore assigned dining room). IF this is true, then one can imagine how this stresses the ability to seat the anytime diners within the capacity of the room; in my opinion (again if this is being allowed and is causing the problem) then Princess should not allow fixed dining time passengers to eat in the anytime dining room, but should send them to the buffet. They were tracking our room number when we signed in, so I wondered if they were checking anytime dining room use by passengers who were supposed to be eating at a fixed time in the Michelangelo Dining room. This was one of only 3 nights that we ate in the main dining room; the other two were a night when the menu appealed to us and the second formal night. The rest of the time we went to the buffet, because we felt that a consequence of over demand of the dining room was that we were rushed through our meal. I want to linger over each course for a few minutes and enjoy the company of newly met passengers, but felt that overly aggressive table service was intended to move us along. One benefit of the buffet was the ability to go back and forth and serve our own courses at the pace we desired and in the evening the tables in the buffet dining rooms were dressed with cloths and utensils so it was pleasant. We began a strategy of finding a bigger table than we needed and inviting others to join us; this resulted in some very pleasant and unhurried meals. One other comment about the food in general; I believe that overall the quality of food that I have experienced over 4 Princess cruises since 2006 has declined. I found much of it to be unimaginative, found fewer ethnic options, and thought much of it was very salty (I don't avoid salt to any great degree at home, but I salt food to taste at the table and don't use much while I cook). In my previous experience one could ask for something like escargot every night if they wished and although one might not get it the first night, once the waiter had the heads up for your desire you could have it every night for the rest of the cruise if you asked. Requests such as these were met with a pretty blunt no we can't do that, not the previous attitude of do anything one could to make the passenger happy. Between the level of service, the beauty of the food's presentation and creative options in the dining room on past cruises I would have always gone to the dining room; this time I felt that the buffet was an equal and often better option. We didn't choose to eat in the specialty dining rooms; we are not steak house kind of people and my husband thinks that we cook Italian quite well ourselves, so Sabatini's didn't appeal to him. I have eaten there on a previous cruise and enjoyed the tastes, but felt it was too much (very delicious) food. Before I close my discussion of the food, let me say that I recognize several things: first, that I am eating in a situation where food is being mass produced for a large number of people and second, that food quality is a very subjective assessment. Most diners around us seemed very happy with their meals, and you may be too. We were happy at every meal to have so many options, to be served, and not have to clean up! That said, I am basing my assessment on previous Princess cruises, two on this size ship, and I felt there was a decline in quality based on my own experience. Between this and the rushed service, we have decided to try another cruise line for our next cruise, before I decide that I am going to become a lifer on Princess. On Monday we were in Grand Cayman; on a previous trip there I went on a very nice snorkel and kayak excursion. This time we went on the pirate boat excursion; it was silly (nicely appealing to the kids on board). I would have preferred to have some actual information imparted about the pirating history in the region mixed with the silliness (which got better over rum punch), and I would have been happier if we'd been taken somewhere to swim that was actually also a good place to snorkel. I had my gear with me, but we were only a short distance from the ship in an area too deep to see much in the way of sea life. Afterward we did a little shopping to find my husband some swim trunks, and then went back to the ship for tea, which was lovely as always. If you haven't discovered the daily tea, it's a great way to have a decent afternoon snack after an excursion without over-eating too close to dinner time. On this evening we went to see comic Miguel Washington; he and my husband got into a bit of banter which we thought quite funny. We enjoyed his performance very much and afterward we retired to our balcony with a bottle of champagne that my husband won at an art auction; it was Valentine's Day and we had a lovely evening under the stars. On Tuesday we docked at Roatan; unfortunately most of the excursions had been cancelled due to 36 hours of rain which had washed out many roads. We were supposed to go to an area of mangroves to kayak and snorkel and I was very disappointed to have our tour cancelled as I had never been to Roatan before and it was a factor in my decision to take this particular cruise. Unfortunately no one can control the weather or its resultant issues; I didn't try to book any other excursions so I can't comment in whether or not they were able to accommodate people into other trips. Roatan has the requisite shopping area at the dock, but there is a real effort to mix big chains (Diamonds International, Del Sol, and etcetera) with shops owned by local people. I bought a beautiful pottery vase and my husband bought a few local items as well. We then walked to the beach (not a far distance and a pretty walk with lots of sensitive plant and flowers along the way) and sat on the dock for a couple of hours. We chatted with a couple who work on the ship; they pointed out to us that the water was very muddy from the rain, and that usually they are able to sit on the dock and see a variety of fish. We returned to the ship early and had lunch; after that I went to have a workout in the gym and hubby enjoyed the balcony. After dinner we went to watch "The Social Network" movie at MUTS, then went to the "Have You Seen It?" trivia game. This was enjoyable, but we were in over our heads; with many teams having up to 10 people it was easier for them to come up with the answers than the two of us and after the game we retired to our stateroom. On Wednesday we docked in Cozumel; for the two of us this was our most enjoyable day. We took an excursion booked through the ship with "Sun and Fun Tours;" our guide was a young man named Miguel, who was absolutely delightful! We went to a group shop full of work by local artisans, then to Tulum for a tour that was too short and to a beach in the afternoon for a swim. Our guide was clearly knowledgeable about Mayan history, as well as other cultures such as Native Americans, Incans, and Egyptians and how their cultures compared to one another. He was also clearly very proud of his Hispanic culture, and as disappointed as we are that his country is generally unsafe for tourists at this time in its history. When I do feel safe there I will enquire about Sun & Fun Tours and request this young man as our guide-he was that fabulous! We knew the tour would be too short, as all the ship's tours are; this is only a "taste" of a country and culture, and in my opinion one must approach cruise travel that way or otherwise be frequently disappointed. We spent several hours in the afternoon at Playa Paridiso, a beautiful beach with minimal waves, and a reef not far offshore. There were boats willing to take one to the reef for an opportunity to snorkel, but we didn't have enough time. We had a lovely swim and lunch was provided; if you wanted an alcohol drink it was available from vendors walking the beach. If you take this tour and have a problem with seasickness, go prepared for the ferry ride between Cozumel and mainland Mexico, which made me a bit green in the AM; on the way back I took a seat outside which was much better. In case you don't know it, being outdoors in a breeze and/or looking at the horizon can both help if you have a bout of seasickness, but best is a dose of anti-nausea medication before you depart. This evening after dinner we went to see comedian Tony Daro; he was also very funny and despite his banter with Miguel Washington, my husband actually thought that this comedian was slightly funnier. We are not both late-nighters, I tend to be up later than my husband at home, but in general we didn't stay up late on the ship. We so enjoyed our balcony that we frequently went there after a show (9:30-10 PM-ish) and had a drink on the balcony under the stars; we had beer and wine in the cabin and our delightful stewardess was happy to provide us with appropriate glasses daily. Thursday was a sea day, and our second formal night. During this day we spent time at the art auction and I worked out and used the spa facilities. We went to tea and the afternoon trivia challenge, and had a lovely dinner in the dining room with four delightful folks we met that evening. We went to try to play the newlywed, not-so-newlywed game, but apparently you had to go sign in and appeal to the CD staff to be allowed to play. They chose 3 couples, one who were relatively newlywed (less than 2 years), another couple who'd been married about 7-8 years and a couple who'd been married a long time (40+ years) to play. Although the game was quite funny, I was very disappointed that the questions were the same ones that I'd heard the last time I'd watched the game being played 2 or 3 years ago. If my husband and I could have played we might have done well because I could have told him what to expect. Seriously, is the CD (who led the game at both of my viewings) or whoever planned the game so unimaginative that they could not come up with a new set of questions once a year? It was a cute game, but not as fun as it would have been with new questions for those who'd seen the game before. We were back on our balcony enjoying the breezes and sky by 11 PM. Friday was our day at Princess Cay; the first bump in the day was the overhead announcement that there was an hour-plus wait for a tender to shore. My advice if you hear this is to go to the assigned location to pick up your tender tickets; you must go with your entire group together to get them. After receiving your tickets go have breakfast and by the time you get back you might be close to your assigned tender time. We made the mistake of going to breakfast when we heard the announcement then went to the assigned dining room assuming that the lines would have cleared. Unfortunately we got tickets but were told that our wait was going to be 45 minutes; we went back to our room for about 40 minutes and when we went back we got right into line because they had just called our group. Based on observation I would guess that if you returned after your tender group had been called then you'd be allowed to get into line, but I can't be certain of that. If you are very concerned about that I would ask if they will allow you to get in line when you return if you group has already been called, or if they will make you get new tickets. As a result of the long lines we didn't get to the island until about 11:00; when we got there we walked the area's boardwalk and found a spot in chairs on the beach and fairly close to the buffet. I went into the water with my own snorkel gear and saw a lot of great fish and coral, but unfortunately there were a lot of people in the small snorkel area and they were kicking up a lot of sand. This greatly diminished my visibility at intervals and since this was my only good snorkel opportunity this trip I was disappointed. I came out of the water for the two of us to get lunch; it was a pleasant but routine experience of salads, barbecued meats and vegetables, and desserts. My favorite part was the fruit salad, which had a lot of watermelon and mango. After lunch I had planned to go to the other snorkel area where I thought there might be fewer swimmers, however it began to rain. My husband took shelter with his iPod, and I wandered through the shops. By the time that the rain cleared it was a little after 2 PM, and the ship's staff was planning on our last tender leaving the island at 3 PM, so I felt it was unwise to go into the water again. The line to the tender was very long and we sat on a bench as the sun returned and listened to the music and watched until the line diminished. Once we got into it we were on a tender within 10 minutes and back to the ship in another 10-15 minutes. I had heard a lot about how wonderful Princess Key is and had actually been scheduled to go there on two previous cruises, but had gotten there neither time because the weather prevented tender use. Having been there now I would be inclined not to go there again as I felt there was nothing special about it and I would have been just as happy on the ship, but it wasn't an unpleasant day. I thought it strange that the island's bars closed at least 1-1 ½ hours before the last tender given the potential income from drink sales, because this caused people to get in line (which may have been the point); we weren't drinking, but when the bars closed the tender lines became very long immediately. I think leaving them open longer might have helped to smooth the flow into the tender lines. Another comment about the tender situation; there was passenger-driven discussion on the island suggesting that the reason for the slow transport to the island in the morning had to do with the ability to get only a few tenders into the small dockage area with a tide that was low. Many people were angry and frustrated with the long wait for a tender to get to the island; I certainly would have preferred to have gone at 9:30 AM when I was ready rather than wait so long. Like the dining room situation I think that Princess misses opportunities to improve customer satisfaction; information helps people to understand the reasons for waiting and what is being done to resolve it. IF it were true that the low tide and limitations of the dock area prevented the flow of tenders then telling us that and what was being done to improve the situation would have gone a long way to assuage the anger in the dining room at being asked to wait so long. All I saw that morning was a lot of chaos (like the dining room on the first formal night) and a lot of angry people without any effort to provide information to the customers. As a nurse practitioner in the emergency room I know full well the impact of making rounds to each of my patients once an hour to give them an update: they feel as though people care about their needs and their wait time, and want them to feel included. If Princess used this customer model I would have been a much happier passenger. We had a lovely final dinner after packing for departure and when we returned to the cabin after our meal our luggage had already disappeared from the hallway. Went spent a delightful last evening on our balcony. On Saturday morning we had breakfast at the buffet. We then waited at the international cafe and got one last cappuccino on our coffee cards. This was well worth the expense to have great coffee; you could order a specialty coffee in the buffet and the wait staff would retrieve it from the International Cafe, except on the morning of our departure. When it was time to leave we went into the dining room and got into the line for our disembarkation group as it was called. We got into the building where our luggage was in an area by color groups and had only minimal difficulty find our suitcases. We passed quickly through customs and were directed outside to a bus that would take us to the airport. FYI, if you need to use a restroom as you are getting off the ship do so before you disembark; the bus had a restroom but it was not to be used and when we got to the airport we were asked to stay on the full bus while they unloaded the luggage. In frustration I finally got off the bus and walked a long way to find one within the airport-so don't make my mistake, LOL! Overall we had a great vacation and there were many things to be enjoyed; we came home having purchased a few paintings at the art auctions and these will be lasting and cherished items from our vacation. My husband had a great enough time that he can't wait to cruise again, and we are staring to investigate a trip in February of next year. I hope that this review will be helpful to you and I am happy to answer any questions you may have if I am able. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
It's a long review, if you want to skip to the end I did a little summary for those of you who don't want to read the whole thing. Pre-Cruise Hotel We stayed at the Cambria Suites Fort Lauderdale. We had booked a ... Read More
It's a long review, if you want to skip to the end I did a little summary for those of you who don't want to read the whole thing. Pre-Cruise Hotel We stayed at the Cambria Suites Fort Lauderdale. We had booked a king suite for $150/night. The room was very nice; it had a separate sitting area with a second tv. The bathroom was beautiful with a nice big shower. There were a few patches on the wall that you could only notice cause the paint didn't quiet match. Other then that everything was nice and clean. They do have a nice little restaurant on site which offers room service. They also offer a breakfast buffet for $8. It looked really good but was too much for me so I just had a bagel. They offer free airport shuttle and cruise port shuttle. You book the cruise port shuttle when you check in. Embarkation Embarkation was a breeze. We had the 10:00 shuttle which left a little before 10, we were at the port by 10:10. Doors opened at 10:30 and we were in the first group. Check in started about 11:30. We were on the ship and in our room by 11:50. The MDR was open but we didn't eat there. My DH wanted me to show him around before eating. We decided to eat at the buffet and went there around 1:00. It was a total madhouse. It was very crowded and I wound up grabbing a few things and getting out of there. I would recommend bypassing the horizon court buffet and going to the Cafe Caribe buffet at the back of the ship. We went there a couple times for breakfast and it was a much smaller line. I wish I had know about it on embarkation day. After lunch we walked around the ship some more and spent some time sitting on the balcony. Our suitcases showed up one at a time and I got them unpacked and organized as they came. Our last suitcase didn't arrive until 5:30. I'm glad it arrived then cause I didn't have any shoes or hair supplies to get ready for dinner. We had the early seating at 6:00. I found this time worked much better for me then the late dining I had on the last cruise. After dinner we went to karaoke and then walked around the ship a bit more. We went to the buffet right before closing to get a snack. They had lobster claws, shrimp and mussels so I'm assuming it was the seafood buffet some people ask about. Day 2 - Sea Day We woke up at nine and went for breakfast in the buffet. I didn't really enjoy it so we opted for room service a couple times after that. I went to the cruise critic meet and mingle at 10:00. Thanks to the Weebles for organizing everything. We did a gift exchange at the meet and greet and everyone seemed to have a great time. Captain Nick Nash showed up to our M&M and we all thought it was great. He is a very personable captain and is very funny as well. He said the company does watch Cruise Critic and gives them a run down on what is being said on the board. After the M&M I went to the $10 sale. I did get a watch but wasn't interested in most of the other items. Since I didn't enjoy the buffet on embarkation day we decided to try the MDR for lunch. I really enjoyed it and it wasn't nearly as long as dinner in the MDR. After lunch we went for a short swim, took a walk around the sun deck and relaxed on our balcony. We got ready for formal night early and went to get pictures done. We had lots of pictures taken and then went to dinner. After dinner we went to see "Destination Anywhere". I did enjoy it but I thought some parts were pretty cheesy, namely the moon skit and the Vegas skit. I did really enjoy the London skit and the Africa skit though. After the show we saw the comedian Troy Thirdgill. He was very funny, my stomach hurt from laughing so much. We didn't go to the buffet but I was told the next day that they had crab legs. I love crab legs so I'm sorry I missed that one. Day 3 - Grand Cayman Woke up to room service at 9:00. We had breakfast on the balcony and then went to get a tender. We got to the Michelangelo dining room around 10 and only had to wait about 5 - 10 mins for the tender. We had the submarine excursion booked here but decided to cancel it. A friend of mine told me it wasn't that great and my DH was not crazy about it anyway. We decided to just go shopping instead. Most of the stores were jewellery stores and I had no interest in that. We went to a few souvenir shops and just walked around for a bit. We walked to the dock and got right on a tender with no waiting. When we got back to the ship we ate lunch in the MDR again. This time we ate alone and got one of the 2 tops that were only a foot apart. It was a little weird cause the other couple were really close. After lunch we went for a long swim in the spa pool. There wasn't many people there since a lot of people were still in port. After swimming we went to the International Cafe and had a snack. We relaxed on our balcony and then for ready for dinner. Our waiters were very friendly most of the time but I didn't like a comment he made at dinner. I had tried an appetizer the night before and didn't like it so I sent it back. Tonight at dinner I ordered an entrEe I should have liked but I didn't. When I told him I didn't like it he told me that when I was ordering tomorrow he was going to tell me if I would like it and suggest something different for me. It made me a little mad, I like trying new things on a cruise and was hesitant to try something new after that. I had sent things back on my last cruise and nothing was ever said to me. I don't think sending two things back in unreasonable. I could understand if I was sending stuff back every night, which I was not. After dinner we went to the Family Feud Show. It started off a little slow but got much better after the first teams. I really wanted to participate but my DH wasn't up for it. After family feud we went back to the cabin and sat on the balcony for a while before the Ultimate Deck Party. I enjoyed the deck party. They had the dancers up for about 10 minutes and then they got everyone to join in. We stayed for about 30 mins and then went back to the cabin. Day 4 - Roatan We woke up to a beautiful view of Roatan from the balcony. We had room service delivered but the sun was way to hot to eat on the balcony. After we ate we got off the ship. It was about 10:00 and our excursion was leaving at 11:45 so we had some time to explore the port. Mahogany Bay is a beautiful port. We took the chair lift to the beach and back. It was a really nice ride and I got some beautiful pictures. The chair lift was $12 pp. I thought it was a little expensive but it was fun. We didn't stop at the beach but it looked like a beautiful beach. I would love to visit there again. We did a little shopping and found a nice store that sold t-shirts for $5.99. I don't remember the name of it but it was to the left of the fountain and across from Del Sol. It's not that hard to find it and they sold kids sizes as well. I was able to get a size 2 for my nephew which I couldn't find anywhere else. Our excursion was the Gumbalimba Preservation Park. We took and air conditioned bus. It took us 45 mins to get there. The driver was great and stopped a couple times for us to get pictures. There was lots of walking involved and it was about an hour and a half tour. They warned us about the monkeys and advised us not to bring bags with us cause they can open zippers. They conveniently had lockers there for us to rent at $3 a locker. We walked around a man made replica of a pirates cave and walked across a suspension bridge. It was a little scary but cool as well. We got to have a parrot put on our shoulder. They take lots of pictures and you can buy your pictures at the end for $10 pp. The parrot pulled the knob off the top of an older mans baseball cap and the button off of another mans shirt. It was kind of funny that they didn't warn us about the parrots since the monkeys didn't take anything from us but the parrots did. We then went to the Monkey area and had our pictures taken with a monkey on our shoulder. At the end of the tour you could stay and visit the beach. At your leisure you could take a bus back to ship. We took the first bus back and they took us through the town which was only a 30 min ride. After dinner we went to see "What a Swell Party". It was advertised as a tongue in cheek look at the Cole Porter Era. I'm sure it was a good show but it was not really my thing. After the show we went to the 50's & 60's dance party for a bit. They were having a hula hoop competition that was fun to watch. We left there and listened to the band playing in the wheelhouse bar. I can't remember the name of it but they were really good. Day 5 - Cozumel We had an early excursion at 7:45. We grabbed a quick bite in the buffet and left the ship around 7:15. Our excursion was the ATV and beach tour. We finally left the port at 8:00 after waiting 15 mins for two people who were late to the meeting point. We took a bus to the ranch, it didn't have A/C but it had lots of fans and it was pretty cool inside. When we got to the ranch we watched a 5 min video on safety, put on our bandana's and helmets and we were off. They take you in two groups, the faster ones at the front and slower or newbies at the back. It was about a 45 - 60 min ride over very bumpy terrain. We made a stop about half way through at a Mayan ruin. It looked like a big pike of rocks but it was a nice break. They supplied water to everyone and first aid to me. I wound up with two blisters on my hand from the handles. I would definitely recommend driving gloves for people not used to ATV'ing. After I already had the blisters one of the guides gave me his gloves which I thought was very nice. After the tour you could purchase the pictures they took of us. There was one at the begging and one of us on the ATV's. We paid $20 for two pictures but it was worth it. We boarded the bus and they took us to a really nice beach bar where we were served a complimentary lunch buffet and gave about 2 hours to relax and enjoy the beach. The bar was called Punta Marina (I hope I'm spelling that right). They had lots of shaded chairs, about 8 hammocks hanging in the shade and an area for massages. I took some pictures and spent some time in the hammocks. I like them so much I had to buy one from the store in front. Our guide told us we would be back to the boat by 12:30 but due to a late start and a late return of the bus we didn't get back until 1:30. We stopped at the duty free store and headed back to the ship. We went for a swim in the spa pool which was very very warm. It felt more like bath water. We watched sail away from our balcony and then went to dinner. After dinner we went to see Las Vegas Hypnotist Kellie Karl. It was a pretty funny show. There were a few people that were goofing around and I wish she had of removed them from the stage. It would have made the show much better. I did see a man that was part of the show and asked him if he was really hypnotized and he said no, he was just good at playing along. It was funny regardless. After the show we went to "Have you seen it movie trivia." The crew act out scenes from a movie and you need to identify the movie and answer a trivia question. It was much harder then I thought it would be. Day 6 - At sea I had the Ultimate Ships Tour this day and met up with 4 other people from Cruise Critic. It was nice to know someone on the tour since my DH didn't want to participate in the your with me. Our first stop was in the Princess Theatre where we watched a couple minutes of lights and got to hear the backstage cues that you don't normally hear. They then took us up on stage and showed us what it looked like when all the lights were on and explained to us about the lifts and props they use. It was very rocky that day and I had trouble standing still on the stage. It definitely gave me new respect for the dancers. I have no idea how they can dance when the ship is moving like that. They took us down into the dancers' dressing room which was pretty small. From there we went to the mooring station at the front of the ship. It was interesting to see the huge ropes they anchor the ship with. He explained that the anchor chain was what held the ship in place as opposed to just the anchor. I can't remember the numbers but the chain is much heavier then the anchor itself. Next on the tour was the galley where we got to meet the chef. He talked about the food that was served and how many staff they have. We had a non-alcoholic drink and some chocolate covered strawberries. They showed us the bakery which smelled wonderful and told us they bake bread 3 times a day. They then took us down to where the food and alcohol was stored. It was pretty interesting to see the crew areas of the ship. From there we went to the laundry on deck 2. It was a little weird knowing we were under the water line. I wondered why they would take us to the laundry and didn't think it would be interesting. I was wrong, besides the bridge it was the most interesting part of the tour. They only wash and dry the towels, everything else is washed and put through this huge machine that dries, presses and folds it all at once. It's very interesting to watch. They also have a towel folding machine for when they are dry. At the end of that tour we were in a big storage room with all the clean linen. I noticed a pallet of laundry with a "For Donation" sign on it. I asked about it and was told that Princess donates all the bed sheets, pillows and duvet covers they can no longer us to the people of Roatan. They also donate deck chairs they no longer need. I had seen a bunch of deck chairs with laundry on them when we were leaving Roatan and wondered what it was all about. I was very happy to hear about the donations. From there we went to the print shop, photo lab and engine control room. They were interesting to see but nothing spectacular. We also went to the medical center and I was impressed with all the things they have. The doctor explained that they can perform surgery onboard if they needed. They also have a morgue on board if needed. As this point or tour was running late and our next stop was the bridge. We got to meet Captain Nash and he talked to us for about 30 mins. He showed us all the gadgets used to navigate the ship and showed us the wheel that they can use manually if they need to. I was very surprised at how small it was. It was much smaller then a car steering wheel. Captain Nash was very friendly and personable. He answered all our questions and seemed happy to do it. We got our picture taken and headed out to Adagio for champagne, or pop for those of us who don't drink. Our guide Alicia sat and talked to us for a while, she answered all our questions about the crew and life on the ship. I would have loved to talk to her more but I was cutting it close for our second formal dinner. After dinner we went to see the show Motor City, it was pretty good. My DH really enjoyed the music. We left there and went to the Newlywed, Not so Newlywed show. It was funny to watch and a definite must see. We then went to see comedian Cory ???. He was funny but not as funny as Troy Thirdgill. Day 7 - Princess Cays We went down to get a tender around 11. It took us about 20 mins to get a tender and we were on shore just after 11:30. We went to the BBQ buffet and had a bite to eat. We talked around the beach for a while and then my DH went back to the ship while I rented a sea board. I thought it would be nice since I can't snorkel without my glasses. I found the yellow sea board to be vey tippy and I got nervous. I didn't wind up seeing any fish and took the board back early. I then took a tender back to the ship. I started packing but then decided to go to the last Bingo. After bingo I only had time enough to get ready for dinner and left my packing until after dinner. That was a big mistake. I was running around like crazy after dinner trying to pack. The ship was really rocking that night and I wound up sea sick from all the movement. We had planned on catching the last show but I took some gravol and went to bed. Disembarkation We were in the second group to disembark without carrying our luggage. We met in the casino at 8:00, grabbed our luggage and took the princess transfer to the airport. We were there about 8:45 (I think anyway) Our flight was supposed to be 11:00 but it was changed to 11:25. Even without the change it would have been no problem. We were through security and waiting at the gate in no time at all. I wouldn't recommend walking off with your luggage unless you only have one bag each. When you get off you will have to take an escalator and they stand at the top and tell you that you need to keep one hand on the rail. We had too much luggage for that. We opted for the transfer cause when we arrived at the port there was a long line of people waiting for cabs. There was no line up for cabs when we got off so you could easily take a cab. It would probably be faster since we had to wait for all the luggage to be loaded and then unloaded onto the bus. Sorry for the long review but I've never written one of these before and didn't want to miss anything. In summary we had a great trip and my DH is now hooked on cruising. The staff was fantastic. The only problem we had was with our waiter one night as mentioned and with a bit of a rude waitress in Club Fusion on two nights. I would defiantly recommend a balcony; I don't think I will ever get my DH to book an inside. He really enjoyed the quiet of our own balcony. We really enjoyed the warm cookies everyday at the IC around 3:30 and the chicken salad is a definite must try. My favorite port was Roatan and I would love to visit there again. The Ultimate Ships tour was excellent and I would definitely reccomend it. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
What a great cruise, my wife and I had a blast. I was never really one to go in for the sail away party, I always preferred sitting on my balcony, enjoying a cold one, but I actually had a great time, the weather was perfect, the pools ... Read More
What a great cruise, my wife and I had a blast. I was never really one to go in for the sail away party, I always preferred sitting on my balcony, enjoying a cold one, but I actually had a great time, the weather was perfect, the pools were open, we were in our room at 12 noon, lunch was great. Princess Cay is Princess Cay, Eat before you leave the ship and enjoy the beach, the amount of pushy people trying to get a burger or a chix sandwich on P Cay is a joke. A lot of unhappy penguins on Formal Night, I heard a lot of "never again" comments. St. Thomas is nice, Amazon will usually give you a better deal on electronics, I'm not in the Diamond business, so I really cant comment, but I always thought a 1 CT Flawless Diamond was better than a 3 CT Diamond with carbon spots in it, but according to the Shopping Expert, your friends need to see the diamond from across the room. I did go into "Royal Carib" electronics shop, I gave the girl 3 cameras I was interested in, she had 2 in stock, then I showed her my price from Amazon and I appreciate her honesty....she flat out told me she could not touch those prices. Dominica is a wake up call for all that have enough cash to jump on a boat for 10 days. This is probably one of the poorest places I've been to, but some of the nicest people I met. Driving up a mountain side in a light rain with partially paved roads, no guard rails, looking down a 200 foot drop, not exactly ideal conditions but the driver didn't seem to mind. Hurricane David destroyed the island a few years back and they are still recovering. We went on the tube rapids tour, It was ok +, the hour drive there and an hour back was a little much, but it was a cute little tour that didn't break the bank, we got some good pics and at the end of the rapids there is cold Beer and Soda for sale and fresh Tuna and Chicken sandwiches for sale. Bring cash for tips and drinks, I regret not getting a grilled Tuna sandwich for the ride home. Really nice group of people from the ship, no whiners or complainers. Grenada was next, Snorkeling on the "High Times" was the order of the day, this included lunch and beach, Snorkeling was pretty much average and so was the lunch and beach, at 99 PP, I thought this trip was a little pricey. This was the short day, I think we were back at sea by 2 PM. Bonaire was very nice, the weather was perfect, we walked around the shopping areas, no great bargains there, we found a nice open air cafe right across from the dock that was closer to the shopping area. We got back to the ship and realized we had 4 hrs to go, there were taxi's right outside the gate that would take you to a local beach for $ 5.00 PP, they also waited at the beach for your return, another $ 5.00, Well worth it, the beach was nice, we brought a towel, mask and snorkel, get a water wallet from a decent dive shop, they only thing we left on the sand was a towel. The Netherlands Antilles is a Dutch Territory, they are a lot more developed than the other Caribbean Stops, it also helps they are a little far south to be in Hurricane Alley and escape a majority of the storms. Aruba the was last stop and in my opinion the nicest, we took the 3 stop snorkel with the wreck dive on the Antilla, Really nice tour, 15 minute bus ride to a local hotel where you boarded a transport boat to a larger sailboat. The crew was very friendly, the water was the bluest green you could imagine. The first two stop were great the Antilla was the first stop, the bow of the ship was about 6 ft under water, great for pictures, lots of tropical fish swimming everywhere. The second stop was in about 12 feet of water on a reef, another great picture spot. The third stop was just off the beach, not so great, but ok, soft drinks and rum punch were free, at the end they have a swing rope, everyone that wanted to got a chance to swing, we had the photographer from the ship with us, everyone got a lot of airtime on the video. The rest of the day, being our last, was spent looking for a few t-shirts and hats (I refer to as Island Crap) that my wife insists on buying. I 'm still a rookie as far as I'm concerned with 5 cruises completed, but this ship is magnificent, the itinerary and the Crew and Guests (a little old, but I'll take old rather than screaming kids and obnoxious parents any day of the week) this has been the best cruise to date with a close second being on the Island Princess through the Panama Canal. The Food was very good and our Mini Suite was great, Don't miss Lobster and Stone Crab night !! We had dinner on deck 15 every night except for the nights at the Steakhouse, the 25.00 PP was well worth it, the food was excellent ! Entertainment was so-so, we walked out on the Magician, Both comedians were very funny, their adult 1100 PM shows were better, the ventriloquist was funny. Dancing and singing don't do much for me, I wasn't the only one, a few people walked out when we did. The Beatles show was good, I prefer the Rolling Stones myself. Our Cabin Stewart "ROI" from the Philippines was the BEST !!!! Happy Cruising !!! Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
Already Booked?

Get to know who you’ll be sailing with

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click