When looking for a spring break cruise, as a teacher, I tried to find a ship with some "adult-only" amenities and thought the itinerary might be less 'kid-friendly' than the Western Caribbean ports. Don't get me ... Read More
When looking for a spring break cruise, as a teacher, I tried to find a ship with some "adult-only" amenities and thought the itinerary might be less 'kid-friendly' than the Western Caribbean ports. Don't get me wrong, I love kids, just not while on a break from them! My review isn't about the kids, it's about the ship and the cruise. Embarkation and disembarkation was really smooth. Before we got on the ship, we breezed through the duty-free liquor shop. The people there tipped us that they were hardly checking the bags and it was easy to take liquor on board, so we got a bottle of rum and had no problem. We paid ten dollars at the store, but later found that the cruiseline itself offers bottles of liquor at fifteen dollars a bottle for consumption in the staterooms. That was nice! You are allowed to take on wine and champagne for your room. I heard they charge a cork fee if you want to drink it in the dining room, but we didn't inquire about it. They also allowed soda and water bottles to be brought on.
The cruise itself was wonderful. We sailed the first five days, seeing St. Thomas/St. John, Antigua, Tortola, St. Lucia and Barbados, with the last day of the cruise being the only one at sea. That was enticing, as we wanted to see the islands, not spend a lot of time on the ship. The stops were all from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, which was really nice. The tours we took from the cruiseline were smooth, organized and interesting. I liked that they were either early in the morning or for the afternoon so you could spend some of the day doing your own thing if you wanted. We did take the all day land and sea cruise in St. Lucia and it was well worth it, despite the morning rain. The Pitons are far from the port, so it was a good way to see island.
I have cruised three times on Costa and once on Royal Caribbean. This was my first Princess cruise, and probably my last, unless some great deal rolls around that is too good to pass up. It's confusing and disappointing, because I have read very few reviews that weren't favorable about Princess. The Caribbean Princess itself is attractive and clean. We got a double upgrade to a balcony and our room was nice. We liked how the bathroom was situated near the closet, giving a sense of privacy while changing. Our cabin steward was awesome. Our waiter was ok. The staff itself was helpful and attentive. So what was wrong with the cruise? The food was not the best, pretty bad at times, compared to my other experiences. Breakfast is over at 9:00 in the dining rooms and we were usually on the run to get to the island in the morning anyway, so we ate at the buffet. It was basically the same food every day. One day they had eggs Benedict in place of the "Egg McMuffin" style sandwich, and the omelet changed daily, but other than that, it was exactly the same every day. Lunch didn't change much from day to day either. But there were some interesting selections, such as mozzarella and tomato on crostini, and veggies on bagels. The International Cafe had some light choices as well. The pastries were always good there, with very good sugarless mousses and light cakes.
For dinner, we elected to choose the late formal seating, thinking we would avoid families with young children and have a more intimate atmosphere. It worked, but so many people chose the anytime dining plan that the dining room was practically empty, which was a little strange. We ordered wine with every meal, and often had to wait for our glass to be filled, for if it was a white wine or champagne, they kept it in a cooling bucket away from the table and weren't very attentive the first couple of days until we brought it to their attention. The food was mediocre; certainly not the gourmet status I have enjoyed on other cruise lines. I found everything to be pretty bland. They had a lot of choices, which was nice, but there just wasn't a lot of taste! The Sea Bass and Barramundi (sp? Sea Perch) tasted the same. The salmon, which was offered every night as an alternative, was overcooked and a little dry. I am a fan of Macaroni Grill's Simple Salmon, and the salmon on the cruise didn't compare. On the last night, I had strip steak. I asked for it to be done medium, thinking it would be pink but probably tender, just in case. It was inedible...thinly sliced, and it was pink just like I asked, but it was tough! The waiters were busy getting ready for the Baked Alaska Parade, so I couldn't hail anyone to take it back and substitute it for something else. My husband had alreay finished his meal, the meat was cold, I had finished my glass of wine, and we decided to leave. We waited to sign for the wine, but the waiter never came, even after the parade! We literally left our plates and everything on the table and went to the buffet where I had a few mussels, which were small and steamed, no butter sauce, spice or anything; kind of what you would get an an all you can eat mussel buffet at a bar for happy hour. We did have some good Moroccan food at the buffet one day for a snack before dinner, and the second formal night dinner of a small lobster tail and two large prawns was good. We didn't dine at the specialty restaurants, which cost an additional $25 per person. A couple of our dinner mates ate at both, and said the Italian restaurant was good, while the Crown Grill steak house was boring. The lady described the steak as being covered in jerk seasoning and tough. She also said our escargot was bathed in steak sauce. It was described as a garlic butter sauce, seemed like olive oil and weak pesto to me.
The Princess dancers and singers reminded me of our high school show choir. We only went to one of those. On the past cruises I've been on, the shows were close to what you would see in Vegas: splashy, colorful, and professional. There were two comedians, and one was very good, the other brought some chuckles but took a while to get funny. Several people walked out of the show before he got on a roll. There was also a hypnotist, who did an adult rated comedy act which was hilarious according to our dinner mates. We missed that one, but went to a relaxation session given by the same guy and it was really good. There is a huge movie screen at mid-ship. We didn't relax watching any movies, but it looked really nice. They put padding on the lounge chairs at night, and it was never really crowded. They showed movies for everyone, a Cirque du Soleil special, and a few concerts after 10:00. The casino had smoking and non-smoking every other day, which was a nice surprise. There were plenty of photo ops, and it was fun to watch families pose together. There were formal and casual opportunities and the photography was good.
The pools are small, as I have read in other reviews. There were two family pools, an adult pool and a spa pool, which was also for adults only. There were two hot tubs by each family pool, one of each was supposed to be for adults only, but there were kids in it every time we walked by, often with their parents. The spa pool, also for adults, was quiet, except for the 12 year old girl doing handstands and somersaults one day. Had I wanted to go into the pool I would have asked someone to ask her parents to take her to the kids pool, but when a pool is designated for adults only, guests shouldn't have to ask the attendants to do their jobs and keep the kids out. The pool for adults on the other side of the ship seemed to have just adults in it, but it is situated under the night club (pretty shaded, no sun...) and one deck down from a shallow kiddie pool for little kids with slides and toys! Really?? Needless to say, the adult pool wasn't very relaxing, unless you don't mind screaming tots.
On the day at sea, it was disappointing to go out at 10:30 only to find people had 'reserved' chairs with towels and bottles of lotion and books even when the signs all say you can't reserve chairs. I walked around for about a half hour until I decided that half the empty chairs weren't being used and found one for myself. I was there for about an hour and a half, watching disappointed people walk around "saved" chairs looking for a place to relax and finally told some people that no one had even come to the row in front of me, so they also decided to have a sit. On Royal Caribbean, the pool attendants kept an eye on chairs, and if they didn't see anyone in them for an extended period of time, they removed the towels so others could use them. Aside from that, the calypso band played quite often and provided a tropical background that with a frozen CocoLoco, could pretty much wipe away the angst of scoping out a place to lay in the sun. Read Less