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574 Princess Romantic Cruise Reviews

We Liked:) * Most dinners (lamb chops, prime rib, chicken topped with shrooms & Fontina, king crab legs). * Most lunches aside from the burgers (low-grade). * Cabin steward was the BEST! Guy was like a ninja. * Comedian/juggler ... Read More
We Liked:) * Most dinners (lamb chops, prime rib, chicken topped with shrooms & Fontina, king crab legs). * Most lunches aside from the burgers (low-grade). * Cabin steward was the BEST! Guy was like a ninja. * Comedian/juggler was very funny and entertaining. * Availability of food. Prego's pizza & grill was going at 1:30 AM for MUTS. * Skywalkers is still the coolest club at sea. * Freshwater swimming pools. * Cold towels when getting back onboard from port days. * Most bands were good. * Champagne party even though more difficult to get a glass this time. * Disembarkation was smooth aside from the sheer mayhem that goes on outside of terminal trying to get a taxi, but that is Puerto Rico's fault. * Muster is as painless as they can make it. Much better than other lines. * Wife enjoyed 2 spa treatments, well sort of - see last bullet under "We did not like." We did not like(: * Lack of A/C in common areas. * Water fountains (hot water) and cardio equipment (old) in gym. * Most waiters were not properly trained and lacked motivation, in our opinion. Example, one guy tried to test a 2nd bottle of wine by pouring the test sip into a 1/2 full glass from 1st bottle. Also would not know to always take ladies orders first. * WORST breakfast in the world and HORRIBLE coffee, even by cruise line standards. * Some dinner items were embarrassingly bad inc. filet mignon (leather) and scallop & shrimp appetizer; Think $0.10 shrimp cocktail in Vegas quality. * Always a line at pursers which wasted our time when needed to check on our account; we had lots of credit to be used. * Comedian/magician put us to sleep. * Location of embarkation is away from the action of Old San Juan where Carnival and others dock. * Hard-sell of products in spa while wife still naked under sheet at end of her treatment left a bad taste in her mouth and ruined the whole experience. She left frustrated rather than relaxed. Okay, that's it! We had a terrific time with a few blemishes. Princess CB has room for improvement. Still, we booked an FCC and probably will go through with it. They changed the rules a bit because they are currently offering double OBC's. Only thing is that if you cancel you will get your $200 deposit back but lose the OBC. In other words, we had to pick an itinerary to get the 2x credits. If we change our mind, we lose the credits and can't switch itineraries. Rumors are true, Crown Grill still a work in progress. Lots of painting going on around the ship still, even at sea. You NEED to play the chair game when at sea if you want a decent spot. We hated that, but it is a part of life so keep it in mind when you go. There are signs about holding chairs for more than 30 minutes but guests would assist their friends, family, and new shipmates by speaking on the violator's behalf when inquiries were made. If you booked, you'll have fun but you will need to know it will not be a flawless cruise. The staff said the sailing prior to ours - 1st out of drydock - was a disaster. Maybe in a few months all will be back to normal. Many of the staff did not even know there way around the ship yet. Happy travels to all and hope this helps! Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
We are multiple cruisers 62(male and female) this being our 13th Princess Cruise. The Weather on this cruise was good with no rain, which is unusual for January. Most days were sunny and around 80. What was different about this cruise was ... Read More
We are multiple cruisers 62(male and female) this being our 13th Princess Cruise. The Weather on this cruise was good with no rain, which is unusual for January. Most days were sunny and around 80. What was different about this cruise was the demographics. "Newly wed and Nearly Dead", the old cruise adage applied, Well maybe not the newlywed part. The average age of cruisers must have been over 70. Many walkers, scooters etc. This was significantly different then our last cruise at this time of the year as in the past the average age was 50ish. The only problem with the elderly cast was that all the shows were very crowded. With a younger crew more people spend time in the casino, bars, on deck or they have kids. You had to go 30 minutes early to get a seat in some of the shows. Scooter people were very rude too. As always something seems to change from the last cruise. What we noticed was that princess eliminated the captains cocktail party except for the special party for return cruisers. They replaced it with just a champagne waterfall. Sometimes we omit formal night but this time we attended it and were disappointed that the first party has been canceled. It is a good chance to mingle and see how people dress. BTW, a tux was rare on this cruise(I don't rent one anymore either) Food was good, service was fine. We chose anytime dining. You could be seated immediately as long as you agreed to share. The cabin was nice. Ship furnishings were clean and well maintained. The Baked Alaska parade has also been canceled. The lobster was not much. Next time I order something else.You still cant go hungry on a cruise. There was no island party either. I always liked that. There did seem to be more dance classes. Line dancing, ball room etc. The exercise room was jam packed, I went there around 7am one day and could not get a treadmill. Must be the age of the passengers. Usually I like to run early and no one is up, not this cruise, people everywhere. Not a real problem I just used the jogging track. The track is too short and oval shaped tho and it bothered my knees. Same in the afternoon. Entertainment was more upscale then in the past. Larger cast of singers and dancers, bigger production numbers and a larger stage. The cast seems to have more experience too. They also had 2 comedians who were very good. Problem with the comedians was that they performed in the explorers lounge which was more conducive to dancing then a stage show. Hard to find a seat, but the shows were repeated so you could see it eventually. We ended up having 3 days at sea. The trip to princess cays was canceled at the last minute by the captain due to high winds. As always on sea days people saved chairs first thing in the morning and did not show up for hours. There were enough chairs tho so you could find something eventually. The deck bar service staff was new and inexperience. I ordered an absolute and sprite and it took 3 tries to get it right. The server brought me absolute then no sprite. Took a long time on deck to get drinks. The football games were on deck the day of arrival and the first day at sea. I liked that, it was good to be able to watch the games. Lots of people in team jerseys. Our stops were Grand Cayman. We went to 7 mile beach at the royal palms. Nice place. $5 cab ride, 7 for chairs and 10 for an umbrella. Water sports shack, good bar, 2 nice restaurants for lunch. Clean too. BTW, princess tenders to Mahogany bay not Georgetown. This is a port area. Plenty of stores there for shopping. Some people didn't like that fact as they had to taxi to town. In Roatan we took the best of tour since we have never been to Roatan. It was an ok tour but too much driving on non scenic routes. Next time I go to the beach. Docked at a port area away from town here too. Nice area In Cozumel, we docked at a port area too. We took a taxi(7 per couple) to the forum shops in town and walked back most of the way. Cozumel was empty. It must have been the port area(lots of people didn't want to pay for taxis) and the fact that only 2 ships were in town. Had lunch at Carlos and Charlies, that was fun. They have a Margaritaville but that was at the end of town and empty. No pool at this Margaritaville, just a restaurant. Grand Turks is much nicer with a wave pool etc. All in all a nice cruise. We had low expectations weather wise and were pleasantly surprised. It was good to get away from the cold in snow in the US. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
This was our second cruise on Emerald for the 10-day Eastern Caribbean Voyager (we did December 2007 and January 2009), this last time with the two at-sea days in the beginning so much better!. On prior cruises on Emerald and other ... Read More
This was our second cruise on Emerald for the 10-day Eastern Caribbean Voyager (we did December 2007 and January 2009), this last time with the two at-sea days in the beginning so much better!. On prior cruises on Emerald and other Princess ships, we've done the formals, traditional dining, lots of on-board activities, the shows, etc. Nowadays, wife and I are simply looking for a quiet, peaceful, private, romantic, let-our-hair-down getaway. Great thing about Princess cruise on a ship as large as Emerald is that there is something for everyone. Food is superb, and entertainment first-rate, but won't go into that (see other reviews). We didn't have kids on either cruise, but I was impressed with the deck allotted only to kids, and the special gatherings and activities Princess devotes exclusively for kids. Embarkation Day We arrived at boat about 11:00 AM, and got to our room around 12:30. Not too bad a wait. Got quick lunch at buffet, did quick tour of ship, then up to Sky Deck for waving farewells to all the people in the high hotel balconies lining the mouth of the port. Real fun tradition, and something all first-time cruisers out of Ft. Lauderdale should definitely experience! Got to the Sanctuary early, which my wife adores. It's pricey, $150.00/person ($300.00 total for two) to reserve a lounge chair(s) for the whole cruise (they have half-day rates too if you prefer to not make that commitment). It closes at 5 PM (why?). One deck below is a no-kids area pool and 2 hot tubs adjacent to Lotus Spa. The entire-cruise reservation is well worth the price if you're simply looking for maximum R-&-R and pampering; you don't care that much about ports (or do ½-day excursions-1/2-day Sanctuary); and you're not all that interested in attending other daytime activities on board. Tip: get there ASAP on embarkation day to reserve the best seating. Ship Emerald Princess, one of Princess's three Grande-class ships, truly boggles the human mind-scale of things. When you roll into port on Emerald, you will be the biggest man-made object for 500 mile radius. Even after the second time on Emerald, it still takes days to really find your way around. But what a ship! We really liked the International Cafe, and especially loved the classical music string quartet (the four girls), who played about 5-ish each evening. To get some alone-time, I trekked up to Princess Links mini-golf on Sky Deck. Go early/late, take three balls, and you can practice by yourself. Hole 4 is par 10,000 - don't even bother with it. Unfortunately, the course has really become run-down between our first and second cruises on Emerald. Excursions Antigua: Did Circle Antigua by Sea w/Lunch excursion. (see Woodmnky review - pretty spot-on, so will only give my impressions). Antigua is a dryer, more arid southern Caribbean island. Since we're from West, seeing yet more arid country (scrubby trees, cactus, yucca, thorny plants, etc.) wasn't that welcome, even though the island is otherwise beautiful. Circumnavigation of Antigua pretty much shows you all you might want to see on Antigua for a one-day shot. We really enjoyed this excursion and heartily recommend it for Antigua. The crew was lots of fun good humored party folk and yes, the banter from the host can be a bit bawdy, but they also never stop pouring the rum punch either. So maybe you go with the flow, right? In any event, we had no kids on our voyage. The 20-minutes on the NE Atlantic side really was Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. When the captain says, "Maybe you all ought to get indoors and hold on for dear life" - seriously consider it! But overall, I thought the whole timing of the excursion is what made it most memorable: about an hour or so around the north side sight-seeing, stop at Green Island on east-central side for private 2.5 hour snorkeling, decent lunch (chicken or fish) and swimming, then several more hours S, SW, and W sides for return trip, also touring Nelson's Dockyard and English Harbour (mega-yacht tours). The thin beach at Green Island is not much to write home about, and it had goatsheads of all things! (thorny stickers for you Eastern U.S. types, so wear sandals). But still, very pleasant. Tip: after lunch on return trip, get your sunscreen on, go to the front of catamaran starboard side, hang on to the rail and dangle your legs over the sea, have your drink cup always at the ready, then, let the water lap your feet as you lose yourself in Antigua... Barbados: Stayed on ship (Sanctuary) on this second cruise. On first cruise, went ashore. Kingstown is a big city, and we're after smaller tropical island experiences now. But for Anthony Bourdain-types, you can have an authentic street-eating experience in Bridgetown and/or try the fantastic beach on the south side of town. If the kids in Barbados are at school, you won't get too hammered by beach vendors. St. Lucia: Quite possibly the most beautiful tropical island in the world. Or at least that's what two ladies who had recently cruised w/Princess in Tahiti and Hawaii had told us while swimming with us in Soufriere Bay (BTW, the buoyancy of the water in that bay is phenomenal - floating is effortless, you can't drown in it). On first cruise, I thought scenic beauty of St. Lucia was on a par with Grand Canyon or some other beyond-words-beautiful destination, but come 12/8/2009 wife and I are off to Tahiti on Pacific Princess to make the comparison for ourselves. On first cruise, we met a vendor at Castries port entry showing us pictures of their boat tour to Pitons, Soufriere, Sulphur Springs volcano, the Falls, with great lunch in open air restaurant in Anse La Rey (or was it, Anse Chastenet?). Wish I could remember the name of the tour outfit for you all because that was a great tour of the main tourist sites on the west side of the island, and a real bargain over the comparable Princess excursion. Moreover, at last minute we played poor and haggled with them for an even better price! I think they are a permanent fixture there, so you should find them (or they'll find you). One thing I missed on that first cruise tour was a real exploration of the island's interior, so on this second cruise we took the Best of St. Lucia by Land and Sea excursion. Half-day in bus down coast road, with stops for picture taking (and vendors), a tour of a plantation with lunch (pretty good), same stops as first tour less the Falls, ½-hour or so swimming in bay, then half-day by water back to Castries. We didn't really like this tour. You see the interior, but half-day in crowded bus is not fun, and our tour guide was disinterested to the point of being surly. Plantation stop was very interesting though. Even though scenic, thing that really disappointed me about St. Lucia was the poverty, dirt, garbage. Tip: Save money and enjoy yourself even more by taking the non-Princess boat tour at the port entry. St. Kitts: This is a really lovely island. On first cruise, we took a taxi to beach at South Frigate Bay. What a view! A setting like Diamond Head in Hawaii. You pay a nominal fee for a lounge chair on the beach, unless you buy lunch/drinks at their nearby cabana -which of course, we gladly did. Second cruise we did St. Kitts Rain Forest Walk excursion. This was our "educational" experience, and worth the $$$ if you, like us, divvy up your cruise experience between equal parts education, sight-seeing, beach lounging, shopping, shore dining, etc. After narrated bus ride west, walk starts out from Romney Manor. Very beautiful gardens and a batik demonstration worth seeing at Manor. Our guide, Winston, was wonderful and very knowledgeable about every nuance of the rain forest. St. Kitts has monkeys, but as Winston says: In St. Kitts, if you see a man with a monkey, expect "monkey business" (i.e., it costs to touch). This afternoon tour moves slowly and has plenty of stops for Winston's narratives, but it also has about ¼-mile of a pretty steep climb. We're in reasonably good shape, but if you have some health or physical fitness issues you might consider avoiding this tour. The tour advertises fruit drinks and light lunch at end, but they also pulled out some rum, which was a fun surprise. I'd eat a hearty lunch on boat beforehand because it can seem like a long hot day. Also, we got to St. Kitts on a Sunday, when everything was closed down. On first cruise, a weekday, we really enjoyed the town square activities in downtown Basseterre from the veranda at Ballahoos. St. Thomas: Did the Champagne Catamaran Sailaway to St. John excursion. Half-day, morning cruise, drive out to east end of the island (interesting in itself), then on catamaran operated by expatriate Americans. The captain and crew were fun! And willing to share with you their Margaritaville experience. Do I hear, "House Hunters International, Baby?" This was our best excursion for snorkeling (plentiful colorful fish, turtles, lobsters, etc.), out on a limestone reef off St. John, and it's a very scenic cruise through the straits going out (port) and coming back (starboard). They motor out to give you as much time as possible snorkeling and swimming, then set sail (slower) on return trip, all the while pouring champagne. Hmmm...got a little "wavy" on the return trip (LoL). Only down-side: lunch was chips, crackers, and cheese, like something off the shelf from Wal-Mart. Eat a hearty breakfast. Otherwise, definitely recommend this excursion for snorkeling and sailing. And then you still have the afternoon for a taxi ride to downtown Charlotte Amalie for shopping save your shopping for St. Thomas or sleeping it off on the boat. Princess Cays: Ahhh....if only the weather in the Bahamas can hold long enough! Always a crap-shoot for sun versus rain at Princess Cays. And water is much colder there too (like public swimming pool). BUT, if it's gets sunny and warm hopefully burning off by mid-morning, then definitely make Princess Cays your primary beach day experience sunning, swimming, snorkeling, band music, barbecue, beach-combing, volleyball, ping-pong, water sports, excellent kids playground, cabana socializing, no harassment from vendors - just the fun stuff. Princess goes to the total max entertaining, feeding, and pampering you on Princess Cays. Makes for the perfect last day of the cruise. Which, of course, is always the ultimate problem with a cruise vacation - it ends too soon!!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
Why not cruise on Princess? Here's why not. Cruised January 10th-17th on the Emerald Princess from Fort Lauderdale. It was our 6th cruise (1 Holland America, 4 Celebrity). Overall, disappointed in Princess Cruises. Why? Major ... Read More
Why not cruise on Princess? Here's why not. Cruised January 10th-17th on the Emerald Princess from Fort Lauderdale. It was our 6th cruise (1 Holland America, 4 Celebrity). Overall, disappointed in Princess Cruises. Why? Major irritants: 1. Early morning announcements over the ship's public address system. We are starting in EST, we're used to CST. After day one, the ship is an hour east of EST. So, with the ship's time being 8am (or once, 7:30am), body time 6am, we don't want to hear announcements that woke us up all but one morning way too early. We couldn't sleep in due to these announcements, and most of the information was useless: docking times are printed in the Daily Patter and posted at all gangways. Recreational activities are also published and we don't need to be awakened to be reminded. Finally, there's a ton of marketing going on ("don't forget the art auction/junk sale on Deck Five") that is tiresome, tacky, and annoying. Cruise director Tim Donovan was more like a drill sergeant, bellowing announcements ("Hope you had a cracking good day at sea; don't forget to buy stuff on board in the blah-blah-blah") and being intrusive many times a day. 2. Limited, slow room service: unlike Celebrity, there's no TV-screen menu and ordering. In the mornings or other times (after embarkation time at a port, for example) the hold time for a call to room service is measured in minutes (we usually put the phone on speaker to wait), sometimes ten or more minutes. The items are very limited; no appetizers or light snacks and worst—no alcoholic beverage service (just bottles, not drinks). 3. Plain, small cabins. Austere—some bare walls; too small for a dresser or any furniture save one small seat and a desk chair. 4. Cramped, miniature bathroom. Barely RV-sized shower; tiny vanity. 5. Room steward attention spotty. Not like Celebrity, where they're constantly slipping in to tidy up; no such thing as the Carnival "folded towel animals." 6. Recurring and unavoidable mob scenes: at ports (3,336 passengers on board), at dinner (huge mob crammed into a small waiting area near the Boticelli Dining Room) and all buffets; disembarking was a mob scene requiring much waiting. 7. No real sailaway observance. In Port Everglades, they tried, but it was too cold. In St. Maartin, tried again, but they decided to wait for a couple who'd missed the boat in Port Everglades, so the band finished its set and everyone just walked away; departed a couple hours late. 8. Dull island night: should be a big, fun and festive island party in the tropics. Drill Sergeant/Cruise Director Tim Donovan starts it out with funeral dirge music ("Claptop's "You Look Wonderful Tonight" and one other tired slow song), then basically browbeats people to imitate his linebacker blitzing dance style; we left after 20 minutes of his pained, forced "fun." 9. Constant hawking of sales of "art," junk, salon services, pay-dining, jewlry, you name it. 10. Loud, forced "fun" on the main pool deck—constantly some cruise staff exhorting passengers on the P.A.; movie always blasting on the second pool; barely room on the quiet, yet smoky aft pool deck. 11. No smoking control on the pool decks. Just have to bear the stink, not like Celebrity (smoking side, non-smoking side). 12. Blah buffets: breakfast, lunch; sameness, and the chaotic layout (islands of food items rather than a buffet line) made for constant traffic jam. Also, there are 5 buffet areas, but they open and close sporadically—finding the one that's open is a pain. 13. No dress code enforcement in traditional dining room (we did Botticelli 8:15 ever day): jeans, polo shirts on formal nights. 14. No midnight buffet. 15. Less than optimum location on St. Thomas (NOT near Frenchman's Reef; crammed into a tiny quay on the opposite side of Charlotte-Amalie. 16. Early departure from St. Thomas (3:30pm). Late arrival (1:00pm) in Grand Turk. 17. Disembarkation: deliberately assign you an early room-vacancy time and waiting spot. We were required to be at our "disembarkation spot" (in our case, the smoke-stenched casino) at 7:50. Waited there till almost nine with a restless crowd, nowhere near enough seats, then finally had to drag our bags down the grand stairway (what a clumsy, bad idea) to disembark. Clearly, Princess realizes they can't disembark you when the say, but they want to prepare for the next set of passengers. Perhaps they need to sail later (6pm rather than 4pm) because they really don't have enough time to turn the ship around without making the disembarking passengers simply wait in holding areas. Poor logistical planning, lack of consideration for those disembarking. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale the night before the cruise and took a $20 cab ride to The Sheraton Yankee Clipper Hotel. It was unusually cold in southern Florida so walking the beach as planned was not possible. The restaurant in the hotel ... Read More
We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale the night before the cruise and took a $20 cab ride to The Sheraton Yankee Clipper Hotel. It was unusually cold in southern Florida so walking the beach as planned was not possible. The restaurant in the hotel was very pricey...$13 for a burger...so we ate across the street at a fun little place across the street at the Days Inn. The room was comfortable and after a good night's sleep we were ready to start our adventure. We checked out just before 11am and got a cab ($12) right away to the dock, not far from our hotel. We were given a number and directed to sit in a certain area that corresponded to our number. By 11:45 our group was called and in just a few minutes we were on out way to the gangway. We avoided the long line for photographer and skipped ahead to get on the ship quicker. We were directed into an elevator and told our room was ready! We were shocked that we could see our room immediately...fastest, easiest embarkation ever! This is the first time we booked an inside cabin and I was nervous that it would be itty bitty. I was pleasantly surprised at the size... very roomy and well laid out. We had more than enough room for all our things (we pack light). On the downside the bed was lumpy and hard but we requested an egg crate topper right away and that helped. The linens were great and the feather pillows I requested were also comfy. The shower was small and did not have a detachable shower head but other than those complaints the room was quite nice. The ship was beautiful and sparking clean. The service was awesome. Our room steward Somnuek was wonderful granting all our requests immediately. We left notes for anything we needed and like magic it was there! Four fresh water pools, two in the center are rather large with hot tubs. The one with the movie screen over it (MUTS) is heated which was nice the first and last days which were cool. The superbowl played the first night but getting a seat was tough and the winds made it uncomfortable so we peeked in at it now and then. We missed the funny commercials because it was a satellite feed. We actually didn't make use of Movies Under the Stars much as we had seen most of the movies that were offered. We usually enjoy the big production shows on ships but were sorely disappointed in the shows on the Crown. The crowd on this ship was older and arrived in the theater very early to claim their seats. We had to go at least 30 min. early just to get a seat. We left early for each show out of boredom. The Motown show was lame, the Destination Anywhere show started off ok but then got weird...we couldn't follow the logic and left. Kimika (comedy/music act) was just ok. The entertainment on the piazza was nice. The do-wop group was fun and the violinist in the group Quadri was awesome! Not the usual Titanic Quartet you expect! The Karaoke was not very exciting like on other ships. The Princess Popstar search wasn't terribly exciting either even though there were some talented people on board. Carnival and Holland do a much better job with these things. The enrichment programs were mostly computer classes which didn't interest us at all. I attended a box making class which was nice. The pool games were funny but the trivia was not very exciting. The cruise director and staff were not very engaging. The entertainment largely disappointed. The video poker machines in the casino were tight and the smokers made it uncomfortable so we didn't gamble much. The food was good overall. We chose anytime dining and always arrived before 6:15 to be sure to get a seat. The dining rooms are hot and noisy and the service is slow. We had good table mates for the most part so we chatted while we waited. The beef dishes were tasteless and tough but we enjoyed the seafood dishes a lot. The lobster served at the second formal night was the best we have had on a ship. The dinner buffet was hit and miss. It has a theme each night and is rather small for a buffet. the breakfast and lunch buffets were better, bigger with more selections. The salad bar and homemade breads were great. The homemade icecream in he closed section of the buffet is offered for free from 3:30-4:30. The other ice cream is $1.5 in a large waffle cone. We tried the soft serve and found it to be more like ice milk. The pizza is good but we have great pizza in NY so we are picky. It was for a snack. We liked the chicken and shrimp salads and the gelato from the international cafe near the piazza(small charge for the gelato). Our first port was Princess Cay. The water was too cold for me but DH tried to snorkel...a few fish but too rough and cold to stay too long. We walked around, bought a small souvenir form a local vendor then returned to the ship. Tenders go back and forth constantly so there was no wait. St Maartin was warmer and sunny. We rented a car from Budget at the pier. We prefer to drive ourselves rather than pay for expensive shore trips. The roads were not good and too narrow to pull over to take aphoto or read the map. It was a harrowing experience to drive there. We finally made it to Orient beach on the French side and DH was surprised to find it was a nude beach! Apparently he didn't believe me when I told him about that when planning the trip! The water and sand are gorgeous! We walked the beach up and down then hopped back in the to tour the island. It is sort of desert like and not much to see. the lookout on the otherside has great views but no parking so we moved on. We had to park quite a distance form famous Front Street and walk 10 minutes to shop. We bought some homemade rum in painted bottles from the duty free and went back to the ship a bit early as it got really hot. We never found the snorkel spots I researched but the water was too rough anyway. I wouldn't rent a car again..expensive and rough driving. We rented a car in St. Thomas as well. Better roads but driving on the opposite side was weird. We stopped at Sapphire Beach...gorgeous water and good snorkeling. The weather was great and water was . I brought dog biscuits to feed the fish and an underwater case for my digital camera. It was amazing to see the fish swarming around eating right out of our hands! We got some great pics of fish. We moved onto Coki beach next for more good shore snorkeling. DH actually saw an octopus! The parking area is scary there and limited too. I heard you can park next door at coral work and walk down the stairs to the beach. We couldn't get a parking spot to shop downtown...what a mess that is! We found a store to buy diet coke at took the car back early. We bought some rum at the duty free on Crown Bay (port) and pored it into empty coke bottles to get it back on the ship. We ordered sliced limes from room service and enjoyed cocktails when we got back to our room. Our last port Grand Turk was cancelled due to rough sea conditions. There is bo bay so I guess this happens whenever the sea is rough. Our port charges were refunded. The seas were so rough the pools were closed as the water was sloshing right out of them! We chose to walk off with our luggage which you could do if you have no more than 2 bags each. Getting an elevator was impossible...we carried our luggage down 5 floors! I would go earlier next time to avoid the problem with the busy elevators (which are slow anyway!). We got off by 7:30 and got a cab right away. We were at the airport and checked in by 8:30 for a 11 am flight back to snow! Overall the cruise was nice and we will probably try another Princess ship again. We prefer Holland to Princess for food and entertainment. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
Background: Our friends had a grandson with a celebration scheduled in St. Thomas. They didn't want to fly so they asked my wife (our resident cruise booking expert) to see if there was a cruise that was stopping in St. Thomas on the ... Read More
Background: Our friends had a grandson with a celebration scheduled in St. Thomas. They didn't want to fly so they asked my wife (our resident cruise booking expert) to see if there was a cruise that was stopping in St. Thomas on the designated day and if we would go with them. She found the Emerald Princess and we agreed to go with them. That is how we came to be talking this cruise. Travel & Hotel. We live in Florida and drove to Fort Lauderdale. We've done this before and stay at the Hampton Inn on SW 12th Street. Good hotel, free shuttle, and you can leave your car there for a nominal charge. Embarkation was well done. There was a long line but it moved along. Once you got to the check-in the process went quickly. There was space to move around the ever present photographer's back-up. Our balcony stateroom was a disappointment. It was smaller than any balcony we can remember on any line. We were on Holland America in Dec 08 and our room was at least 1/3 larger. The bathroom was really small and the shower almost laughable. Our friends got a large balcony room (+$800) and the only difference was a larger balcony. We found that with the larger balcony you didn't have any privacy as all the decks above can look down on your balcony. We were disappointed in the ship design. It appears that the primary consideration was for the number of cabins at the expense of the public areas. All the public areas were too small for the number of people on the ship. The theater seats are narrow and very close together (think discount airline). I found it so uncomfortable I skipped all the shows. My wife went to the shows with our friends. Anytime people gathered (shows, evening entertainment, and Piazza events) there was never enough room. I use the fitness center, dry spa and steam room extensively. The fitness center, equipment, and classes were fine. The locker room is too small for the size ship. It is poorly designed with towel storage on the small bench and thus nowhere for more than one person to sit at a time. There is an additional thermal spa for $80 that I joined. I will not do that again as there is really no benefit over the free facilities. We used Anytime Dinning. This was fine as long as you made reservations. If not, there were long lines most of the time. There is a dining room on Decks 6 and 5. Most people went to the Deck 6 room and Deck 5 was less crowded with a shorter wait. The food was fine. The free pizza was very good. On the days at sea there was an English pub food lunch menu in the Wheelhouse bar. It was very nice and I enjoyed it. There was the usual spread of shipboard activities. All was as expected. Another disappointment was the Princess policies on getting more money from the passengers. I ordered a drink and was asked if I wanted a medium. Now to me that means there is a small, medium, and large. Not the case. A medium is a larger drink than a regular size and more expensive. I haven't seen this type of deceptive marketing since McDonalds Hamburgers used it with their french fries. A fellow passenger fell on the ship and cut himself. The Purser's Office charged him $1.09 for band aids. There is free ice cream on board for a few hours a day but it is totally unadvertised as opposed to the for fee ice cream which is well advertised. The gym classes are $10 each if you buy a package for the entire cruise or $12 if you want to try just one. I could go on with more examples of, in my opinion, the loss of prestige of the line and the move to mass marketing techniques based on the size of the ship. When you are on-board, let the buyer beware. The cabin service and our table service were very well done. We felt that clean-up and drink delivery on the Lido deck dinning were a bit slow. Everyone was pleasant and made the cruise enjoyable. My wife enjoyed the entertainment. As mentioned before, all evening events were very crowded. Most shows were repeated three times over two or three days; I guess so everyone would have a chance to see them. We think the variety and quality was as expected for Princess. We visited five ports. Excursions and other details were as expected. Disembarkation was fine. We had the option of early walk off which we didn't use. Our group was called within five minutes of the expected time. It was a usual, timely disembarkation. I filled out my comment form but couldn't fine a place to drop it off. I guess there was a box by the Purser's Office but who goes near that place on the last day? I expected a box by the gangway but there wasn't one. Summary: A day cruising is better that any day ashore so don't take my comments above to mean we didn't have a good time. It was just a series of small nits that kept it from being a great cruise. Princess seems to have lost the ability to do the last 5% that separates a great cruise line from a good one. Overall I told my wife that we will not cruise on this class of ship again but I don't mind going on Princess. Perhaps we'll find the smaller ships still have the old Princess charm and quality. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
We arrived in San Juan two days before embarkation. We stayed at the San Juan Marriott Stellaris in the Condado area. We really enjoyed this hotel We had a corner room with an ocean view and two balconies. The location was very convenient ... Read More
We arrived in San Juan two days before embarkation. We stayed at the San Juan Marriott Stellaris in the Condado area. We really enjoyed this hotel We had a corner room with an ocean view and two balconies. The location was very convenient to several restaurants and shopping. On embarkation day, we checked out of the hotel at 11am, hung around the lobby a little bit and then headed off to the pier. We arrived at around 11:20am, dropped of our luggage and stood in line. At around 11:50am they started to let everyone in the building sitting us in rows of chairs. Samples of rum punch were passed around and then at around 12:15 they started to let us check in. We were in our cabin by around 12:30p. Cabin: We had cabin R411 which was a PH suite. Really loved this cabin, especially the bathroom. And the closet was such a nice size. I was thrilled to see that we had two cushioned lounge chairs on the balcony as well as the table. This cabin spoiled us. I don't know how I will be able to go back to a regular cabin. I was concerned about the noise complaints that I read about due to the Lido deck being above. The only time we really heard the noise was when we were sitting out on the balcony. And once I was jolted out of my sleep due to someone running above my head. Other than that, no issues. Ship: The ship is so beautiful and elegant. There were so many different lounges, I never made it to them all. Being that it was Spring break time and there were over 500 kids on board, I wanted to reserve a chair for the week at the Sanctuary. However, on this cruise, I was told they were not selling weekly passes. I ended up spending my deck time in the same area, just not in a thick padded chair.But the area was never crowded. Someone in another review from the same week said they had problems finding deck chairs. I never had a problem. Just travel upwards and there are deck chairs a plenty.  I really loved the Lotus pool. It was never too crowded. I did not find the ship that hard to navigate, but I studied the deck plans before we left. I wish I had spent more time at Skywalkers.It was smooth sailing most of the week. There were a couple of days where there was more motion though. It was more of a side to side motion than a rocking. I much prefer the side to side motion than rocking.Dining: A perk with the suite is that we could order room service from the dining room menu. We did this almost every night. Delivery would take around 30 - 40 minutes. We'd take the food out on the balcony or just eat in the room and watch a DVD. The food was good for the most part, but probably better in the dining room. We were slightly disappointed in the desserts. believe it or not, we had far superior desserts on the Carnival Victory last year. We had anytime dining. The one night we went to the dining room, we did not have much luck. We went to the Island dining room because I had heard it was easier to get table. We wanted a table for 2 and ended up waiting for 30 minutes. Couples with pagers from the Palm dining room had a shorter wait than we did that night. Once seated, our service was slow. The wait staff seemed to have too many tables to deal with. So, we did not go back, just stuck to room service.We enjoyed the buffet. The food could be hit or miss, but there was plenty to eat and lots of variety. My husband really loved the seafood buffets on the formal nights. I was surprised at how early the pasta buffet closed one day. I think it was done by 1pm. So if you want the specialty buffets, be sure to pay attention to the times they are open. We went to breakfast at Sabatinis, a perk for suite passengers, on our sea day. It was pretty crowded. Service was a little bit slow. The food was good, but we did not go back. Stuck to the buffet or room service. On my birthday, we dined at the Crown Grill. The food was excellent. We really enjoyed the atmosphere. The service was mostly good, except they did not bring me cake. I had handed in the card they give you at the podium when we arrived. I mentioned this when we left and they apologized. When we returned to our cabin later that evening there was a platter of chocolate covered strawberries and a cake along with a card of apology. I thought that was very nice. Entertainment: I did not make it to any shows in the main show room. I did manage to get there for bingo one night and watched a little bit of Slum Dog Millionaire. MUTS - I really enjoyed MUTS. It was so nice and relaxing to watch a movie under the stars. I suggest watching from the upper deck. It just seemed hard to hear on the Lido deck with people splashing around the pool. One night I saw the mentalist in the Explorer's lounge. I found that show to be very entertaining. The casino was very nice. My husband loved that it had  video poker slots at the bar. And over there it did not seem as smokey as other parts of the casino. There was really a lot to do every night. While I did not participate in everything, I appreciated the variety. Debarkation: The process was not that bad. We walked down the stairs and got stuck by the exit for a while. That became a bit of a mess though as people got off the elevators and squeezed in and it became way too crowded. But soon we were allowed to exit and we had no issues finding our bags and a cab.Summary: I really enjoyed the cruise. The Caribbean Princess is officially my favorite ship. I just loved the variety of entertainment, lounges and dining options. I would love to sail on her again. I was worried about sailing during Spring break, but it was not too bad. Except for the running kids and a few rude kids at MUTS who thought it was perfectly fine to sit down and eat their buffet food and talk loudly while many people around them were really into the movie. No parents around. I had read others had issues with the kids taking over the adults only terrace pool. Otherwise it was fine and I would still sail during this time again. Thinking about doing the opposite itinerary next year. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Embarkation: My opinion, Barbados is not equipped to handle the massive influx of cruise ship passengers. Our flight (non-chartered Delta) arrived about 2:15 p.m. as did four or five other flights. Needless to say, we 'queued' ... Read More
Embarkation: My opinion, Barbados is not equipped to handle the massive influx of cruise ship passengers. Our flight (non-chartered Delta) arrived about 2:15 p.m. as did four or five other flights. Needless to say, we 'queued' for a good two hours or so. Our CC group had planned to meet at 4:30 on our first day for a meet and greet. We missed it by a mile! On the positive side, we were ever so happy to finally be onboard and in our cabin. Our long flights probably had something to do with our attitudes regarding the whole embarkation process. Fellow passengers: 99 percent (seemed like) were from the United Kingdom - mostly England. We enjoyed them very much, and made some new friends, however, did not take into account that most of the entertainment (humor, etc.) would be geared to their taste and therefore like a foreign language to those of us from the U.S. Also, it was our observation that there is a different attitude towards the crew than we have noticed on other cruises where the makeup of the passengers is mainly from the U.S. Seemed like the crew was treated almost like they were invisible. These folks are working their tails off for the comfort of the passengers and they seemed for the most part to be ignored, and this included at tipping time. The general attitude seemed to be that Princess should be paying the help and it was not the passenger's place to have to do that. I'm afraid that many of the room stewards and wait staff were short changed in the tipping department. Most of the passengers we talked to had the automatic gratuity removed from their accounts and we did not see very many white envelopes being handed out on that last day. Tipping is covered in depth here on CC, but I forget that only a small percentage of cruisers knows of this site. I'm trying to get the word out! Food: Also aimed at the British clientele. Lots of lamb and fish on the dinner menu and not much beef. It was my opinion - although this was our first Princess cruise, that the nicer cuts of beef are now mainly saved for the for-fee Sterling Steak House and are not really offered in the main dining room except occasionally. This is probably a way for Princess to cut costs, but it's the first time I've noticed this on any cruise. Food was good though, and of course there was plenty of it! It was interesting to see beans on the breakfast buffet! We had late traditional seating in the Traviata Dining room. All the food we had there was excellent as was the service. Our waiters, Rico and Allen were great! We ate at Cafe Corniche one night. Pizza looked okay, but the lasagna was a disappointment. We are in agreement with a previous review, that the service in the Cafe Corniche wasn't so great! Ice cream was served during tea time in the Horizon as well as dinner time. There is also a for-fee sundae parlor on deck 12, I think. Cabins: Tiny! Ours was an inside on the Baja deck, Deck 10 and while it had plenty of closet and drawer space, enough even for a 14 day cruise, the cabin itself was very small. Bathroom was nice and roomy - shower only. DEcor was good, but furniture is getting tired. Room Steward, Jules - Excellent. He took wonderful care of us and we loved him. Public areas: It was our opinion the ship looked great. The Wheelhouse was beautiful. Princess Theater was a strange set-up for shows with traditional theater seating, making it difficult to see or get a drink, while the Vista Lounge was more like other ships we've been on, but also not a very good set-up for viewing the entertainment. We enjoyed the movies under the stars a time or two, but didn't like that there was soccer playing there so much of the time. There was a game area adjacent to the Casino which I thought odd. Not really a place for children in my opinion. Library was beautiful. Internet and Photos too expensive! Crew: Everyone we came in contact with was pleasant and helpful. Met one or two wait persons in the Horizon with an attitude, but if they'd been on the ship for awhile, maybe they knew they wouldn't be getting much in the way of tips and that could explain the attitude. Nellie and Leslie in the shops were wonderful. We got to know them and really enjoyed them a lot! Where it counted, we were very well attended to and taken care of, but then, this has always been our experience when cruising. The captain was probably the most personable and approachable we have ever had. He was great. Ports of Call: This was the best part of the cruise! We did all excursions on our own, from recommendations here on CC and had a wonderful time. We choose a cruise for the ports of call and this one didn't disappoint! Wish more cruises offered this great variety and number of Ports! We especially enjoyed our day in Isla Margarita with Steve & Marcella. They treated us like family. It was great! Spa & Fitness: Can't really comment on this, since we didn't use the fitness center or the spa. We walked a couple of miles every day on the Promenade deck and climbed the stairs to every destination on the ship, so felt this was plenty of exercise, but the facilities looked nice! Disembarkation: Not too much better than embarkation, but then the cruise is over. Can't expect to feel happy about leaving under the best of circumstances. It may seem from some of my comments that we didn't enjoy this cruise. On the contrary! It was great. Any day cruising is good as far as we're concerned. Just being candid about some of the things that we weren't expecting and that's why I read reviews - for an honest opinion. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
My husband and I sailed on the Emerald Princess from Ft. Lauderdale on April 19-29.  We did the Southern Caribbean itinerary that went to Aruba, Bonaire, Grenada, Dominica, St. Thomas and Princess Cays.  We are both in our mid 30's, ... Read More
My husband and I sailed on the Emerald Princess from Ft. Lauderdale on April 19-29.  We did the Southern Caribbean itinerary that went to Aruba, Bonaire, Grenada, Dominica, St. Thomas and Princess Cays.  We are both in our mid 30's, we have no children, and this was our fourth cruise.  Our first cruise was on Carnival, our other cruises on Royal Caribbean.  I chose this cruise because I wanted to visit different islands; we have already done one Eastern, Western, and Southern Caribbean on our previous cruises.  This was our first Princess cruise, and first time to do a 10 day vs. a 7 day cruise. We stayed at the Embassy Suites in Ft. Lauderdale for one night before the cruise.  I liked the hotel and it was a good value because they offered free full buffet breakfast in the morning and alcoholic drinks and treats during happy hour.  Embarkation:  Chaotic.  I've never experienced such disorganization from a cruise line in boarding the ship.  We got to the terminal around 11 am and you could not tell what line you were supposed to be in or what doors would be opening to start the boarding process.  When you finally thought you had it figured out, they reversed the line and sent all the people who had been waiting the longest to a different entrance.  It was frustrating.  Once we finally got into the building, it seemed to streamline a little better. Stateroom:  We had a balcony on the Caribe deck and I was pleasantly surprised with the size.  I've never had a balcony contain more than 2 small chairs and a small table.  This one had 2 loungers, 2 chairs and a medium sized table.  It wasn't very private, you could chat with your neighbors from all sides and the smokers around also bothered me a bit.  Overall though, I thought it was fantastic.  I also thought our room was spacious enough and our room attendant did a great job.  Rarely saw him, and the room was always impeccable.  The shower was small, but it's to be expected. Food:  We chose to do anytime dining because I'm a very picky eater and I really don't enjoy the food in the formal dining room that much or the time constraints of traditional dining.  I liked this option, as I never felt like I was letting my fellow dining companions down by not being there.  We ended up eating in the dining room twice, both times at pre-arranged times with people we had met on the ship.  Each time we were seated immediately.  Dinner lasted sometimes 2-3 hours which is just a bit much for me.  So, I was thrilled to have the option of eating elsewhere and anytime dining is another main reason I chose this cruise.  Since I like the simple food, I had a lot of the pizza on the ship.  I thought it was excellent.  Very tasty.  They could have had more varieties, but I'm sure they were just trying to please the masses.  The breakfast buffet in the morning had enough options.  Omelets were not as easy to come by as on previous cruise lines.  The Trident Grill's hamburgers, hot dogs and fries were tasty.  Never a wait to get them, always prompt service.  The food I absolutely enjoyed the most was the fish & chips in the Wheelhouse Bar.  Just excellent. We also tried out the Crown Grill one night to join our friends on the cruise.  I am not a fan of the specialty restaurants simply because I don't believe I should have to pay for food that you should be able to get for free.  As I thought beforehand, I did not think the food was worth the $25 pp surcharge.  I ordered a steak and baked potato.  My food was good, but others at my table had their steaks come out too done compared to how they were ordered.  We had almost finished our meal by the time it was corrected.  However, the wait staff was gracious about it, did apologize, and even brought as a bottle of champagne for our table to share to make up for the mistake.  So, my experience there was fine, but I probably would not go to another specialty restaurant again simply for the fact that I don't like to encourage them charging for any extras on the actual ship.  Pools/Ship Area:  I thought the ship looked like it was well kept up, in good condition.  Yes, the layout was a little odd, but if you are the exploring type, it meant you might find a little nook or cranny that nobody else did.  I enjoyed all the pools, there were a lot of them.  Hot tubs were smaller than I'm used to, but scattered about all over the ship.  Never seemed like it was overly crowded anywhere on the ship but maybe the Explorer's Lounge when they were having a nightly show in there.  I enjoyed the swim against the current and cushy chairs by the spa pool.  We never used the Sanctuary at all, I could find other relaxing, quite places that I didn't have to pay extra to be in.  Entertainment:  I have never gone to as many shows nor did so many scheduled activities as I did on this ship.  On my previous cruises, we usually found ourselves in the bar areas listening to bands or singers or in the nightclub dancing.  There really didn't seem to be that great of entertainment in the small bars & the nightclub was DEAD.  So, off we went to the shows.  I actually enjoyed the dancing shows.  The two comedians we saw were funny.  The juggler even entertained me some.  We went to the Not So Newlywed game and that was funny.  Karaoke nights were entertaining.  I even went to Country Music night, found myself out on the floor learning line dances, and I don't even like country music.  So, although the entertainment experiences were different, I still enjoyed myself.  There was always something to do.  The only complaint I heard was from a couple who had been on the Crown Princess just a year earlier, they told us all the shows were the exact same.  That would have been truly disappointing, so I'm glad we hadn't previously been on a Princess ship. Spa:  I did get a couples massage at the Lotus Spa.  This is the first spa service I have ever had on a cruise ship, but not my first massage by any means.  The price is pretty steep.  I think it was $269.  Before I left, that seemed like a ridiculous amount to pay, but I ended up paying it because I so enjoyed the hot stone mini massage they gave me when we did the spa tour on the first day onboard.  It was worth it though.  It was really relaxing, the massage felt great.  It was a little windy up there in the cabana's they take you to, and you could sometimes hear the people talking in the Sanctuary during your massage, but all in all, I'd do it again.  They gave us a short sale on the products at the end, but really, we said no and didn't have any problems.  Ports:   Aruba:  My husband and I rented a Jeep and drove the island ourselves.  Sometimes we would find ourselves entirely alone with no one else around except for the ocean on one side and rock formations on the other.  Sometimes, we would occasionally meet up with the other organized tours.  It was a nice way to see the island's attractions.  We covered the CA Lighthouse, the church, rock formations, and Baby Beach.  We had time to stop at Senor Frogs too and go down the waterslide in the bar (which was actually one of the most fun things I did on the entire trip).  Bonaire:  Looked like a beautiful place.  I wish we would've had more time here.  We walked around and saw a lot of shopping and restaurants.  We had booked the water taxi to Klein Bonaire through Princess because I had heard that sometimes all of the water taxi's get reserved and you wouldn't be able to get one unless it was through the cruise line.  I'm not sure I really believe that now, having been there, but still, I enjoyed our snorkeling over there and it was a beautiful place. Grenada:  I did not like this port and I only filled out the survey at the end of the cruise just to let Princess know that I would take it off the itinerary.  We went through the shopping area before going on our excursion and as I had read before leaving, they were very aggressive and very pushy trying to sell tours.  We booked the independent Manadoo Spice tour after reading great reviews on Cruise Critic and it did not live up to my expectations.  I enjoyed seeing where the spices were made and learning about them, but they did not provide us with any local food or drinks other than a Dixie cup of punch.  They barely stopped long enough for you to use the restroom and it was a ton of riding around in a bus.  I think there may have been a road closed that contributed to this, but there really was no communication on this from our driver.  We did so much driving that we did not even have time to make a scheduled stop at any beaches and there was no apology for that either.  I cannot recommend this tour for those reasons.  After finally getting back to the ship, we tried to do some quick shopping at the local market and a local man tried to start a fight with my husband after he innocently took a picture of the general market area.  He was not taking a picture of anyone or anything specific and we were utterly shocked as to the rude and disparaging comments that were made to us.  They made us feel very uncomfortable and we bought spices as presents as quickly as we could and went back to the ship.   I have been to Mexico, and Jamaica; some other places that you can sometimes run into difficult situations, but I have never experienced anything like this before.  I will never go back. Dominica:  We took a cab with another couple to snorkel Champagne Reef on our own.  It was so early in the morning that no one else was there.  That was a plus and minus.  It's great to be alone on a grand adventure, but we had trouble finding the actual snorkeling spot with the famous bubbles that come up.  We finally did locate it after about 30 minutes or so and it was really neat, completely as advertised and I'm so glad we didn't miss it.  We had already booked the Antours River Tubing tour so we had a limited time at Champagne Reef before we had to go to that.  River Tubing through Antours was fantastic.  I really enjoyed it and always felt safe with the qualified helpers they had working the river.  Before and after the tour, local food and beverages were served and it made all the difference.  This tour, I would recommend to anyone.  St. Thomas:  We went shopping in the morning and even though it was my third time there, I still had never made it to Meagan's Bay.  So, we took a taxi there on our own in the afternoon.  The beach and the scenery on the way there and back were beautiful.  St. Thomas is always a good time.  I had never had the Bushwhacker's either and they were fantastic! Princess Cays:  Tendering over to the island took longer than I thought it should have.  Again, seemed like Princess should've had this process working like clockwork, but they didn't.  Once we got there though, plenty of lounge chairs and I loved the water and the island.  Very relaxing.  My only complaint is that the people playing sand volleyball had a flat volleyball and when they asked for another one, they were told there was none.  Huh?  Shouldn't be that hard to have a few spare volleyballs laying around. Disembarkation:  I booked an earlier flight than I probably should have.  I knew that before we left, but I really wanted to get back earlier because we both had to be at work the next day.  My flight left at 8:50 am.  I thought we would have no problem making it if we took our own luggage off the ship.  The meet up time to do that was 7:15 am.  However, because of more Princess disorganization, confused lines and confused people, we did not get off the ship until 8am.  I'm happy to say though, that we still made our flight.  Unfortunately, my stress level did go from 0 to 10 during this process. Overall:  I enjoyed this cruise.  We met some great people.  On our last cruise we did the same amount of ports in 7 days and it was truly too much.  So, by choosing a 10 day cruise, I did manage to have it be more relaxing this time.  However, a lot of people on this ship were older than us and meeting couples our own age sometimes felt challenging.  And, although I enjoyed the "different" entertainment, I was let down by the bars/nightclubs on this ship.  For that reason, we will probably go back to Royal Caribbean and back to 7 day cruises.  With that said, I don't regret trying out Princess, and I will sail them again sometime. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
We were on the last cruise of the Ruby Princess to the Caribbean before she sailed to the Mediterranean on April 18, 2009. This is my third cruise and my husband's first. Embarkment: Very easy and painless. We did have a ... Read More
We were on the last cruise of the Ruby Princess to the Caribbean before she sailed to the Mediterranean on April 18, 2009. This is my third cruise and my husband's first. Embarkment: Very easy and painless. We did have a bottle of wine in our suitcase and security did not care. Formal Nights: Always done on the evening when we were at sea all day. Food: Stay clear of the buffet on Lido deck when you first board. It was a madhouse and people were sitting around the tables talking with empty dishes in front of them. Head out to the pool grill, pizzeria, or the international cafe. We had anytime dining and we thought the food was good. We ate in the Michelangelo dining (less crowds) and always had a table for two without waiting. The only complaint I had was the service was so slow. The servers would wait for all the tables for two would fill and then bring all our food out a one time. If you got there at 5:30 and the last table filled at 6, every table would get their entrEe at the same time. We arrived one night at 5:30 so we could watch the movie at seven. We did not get out entrEe until 6:45 and we missed the movie. I was so disappointed. The first night at dinner, we ordered a bottle of wine. We asked to have to cork the bottle for the following night. The girl kept pouring us the wine. You need to make it very clear you only want one glass of wine. The buffet's food was okay and did serve ice cream every afternoon. There are two different buffet areas and they do serve different foods on each line. The pizzeria pizza, international cafe and the grill by the pool were all very good. We did the ultimate balcony dining, which included fresh flowers and a free photo. It was well worth the $100. The ships photography came and took appx. 8 pictures. Carlos and Roger were wonderful and attentive to us. They gave us plenty of alone time and were always there when we needed them. The dinner started with canapEs and a cocktail of our choice then it proceeded to a crab pastry appetizer, salad (much too large for this many courses), lobster and steak, fresh fruit and mousse, followed by an anniversary cake and cookies, plus a bottle of champagne. Let it be known the ship will only do three ultimate balcony dinners per night unless they are on the same floor close together. We called the first day at sea and they were all booked for the night we wanted. We asked to be on the waiting list and were called the next day because someone had cancelled. I tried to book the dinner prior to boarding and I went through five different people on the phone when I was informed it had to be booked on the ship even though all the literature says to book prior to leaving on your trip. Alcohol: My husband and I enjoy margaritas. We tried them at four different bars on the ship and they were all syrupy sweet even when we asked them not to make them sweet. I did not realize they were from a pre-mix. Ask the bartender to make the drink from scratch and to put some alcohol in the glass because I did not even get a buzz from drinking a double. Laundry: I did not use them but the washers ($1.50) and dryers ($1.50) are on almost each deck. The wash soap was $1 from the dispensing machine. There was a change machine in the room but it was empty. If you plan to use the machines, it would not hurt to bring quarters so it would not be a hassle to find quarters. Stateroom: We had a minisuite on the dolphin deck. Our deck had the farthest balconies out and closest to the water, which I loved. Yes, everyone could see our balcony but I did not look up. Our steward was interesting in a bad way. He let us know from the beginning the company worked him like a machine. He worked eleven hrs a day, seven days a week. I did not want to hear complaints from the employees especially from the steward on my vacation. The steward addressed and only spoke to me. He totally ignored my husband from the first time they met. The steward only addressed my husband one time because I called the steward's attention that my husband was also present. My husband tried to initiate conversations with him. The steward was matter of fact, no happiness was in his job, and I never saw the man smile or laugh. On my way out I gave the steward an extra tip because he did do a good job. I felt he was ungrateful and snubbed my husband as we passed in the hallway to leave. There is a full TV and channels guide located in the back of the small hardback blue book in the room plus a small card to carry for all the dining options times and locations. We found this out late into the voyage. Leaving: We were in the first group to leave at 8:10 am with our luggage. We were in the dining room at 7:20 am, and were able to leave the ship at 7:30. After we cleared customs and out the door, there were two reps from Southwest available to check our luggage and give our boarding passes at the pier. Our plane was leaving at 10:35 so there was no charge to check in our luggage. It was perfect. The cab ride to the pier was $19.50 and returning to the airport was $12.50 which we shared with another couple. Activities: I was surprised at the small number of activities offered for the 3,000+ passengers. Natalie really stood out to me on the activity staff. She was fun,laughing and always having a good time with the passengers. The comic Kevin Jordan was very good. The productions in the theater will entertain you. You need to get there at least a half hour prior to the show to get a seat because the theater seats 900 people. We played putt putt golf (bring your own golf balls) and had few balls available. The adult pool is in the back of the ship and less crowded. The outdoor movie screen plays movies all day so check the Patter for listings. They do have different kind of dancing lessons as an activity. Passengers: We had many different ages and nationalities on board. I was surprised at the number of scooters and wheelchair people on board. There were a few I thought that they boarded to die out at sea. Yes, my husband and I did enjoy the cruise. It was okay but not great. We do about three major vacations per year and I would have to get a really good deal to cruise with Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
We cruised on the 5/3 to 5/10 sailing to Aruba,Bonaire,Grenada,Dominica & St Thomas. Our 1st time on Princess, had heard good things about this line so decided to try it. 1) Embarkation was very nice - got to terminal by 11:15 am, ... Read More
We cruised on the 5/3 to 5/10 sailing to Aruba,Bonaire,Grenada,Dominica & St Thomas. Our 1st time on Princess, had heard good things about this line so decided to try it. 1) Embarkation was very nice - got to terminal by 11:15 am, stood online till Noon when doors opened, once inside,zipped thru check-in process, stopped at store inside & picked up some soda and was on board, in our cabin by 12:30.  One note, have read in diff. places (inc Princess) that a crew member escorts you to your cabin,doesn't happen, they're by the elevators & tell you what deck you're on & which way to go but that's all.  No big deal but just mention for those who might be expecting this service.2) Disembarkation - had 1st priority, 8am (due to an early flt) -  no crew staff checked the colored tags so people were getting off as they pleased and causing slight back ups in luggage claim area.  line to go thru custom check was long and people were cutting it all over the place, when bought to the attention of Princess crew staff, they shrugged their shoulders & said "there was nothing they could do",which caused more people to cut the line.  So have no idea why these crew members bothered to be there.  Got to airport by 9:30, plenty of time for flt.  3) Our cabin steward was fabulous and so far other roll call members for this cruise said the same @ theirs too. Name was Dino, he has 6 more mos to go on his contract,hope someone here gets him.  He was always happy, smiling and very eager to please.  No idea when he slept though, was there when left in morn & when back late at night. Room was always fresh, ice kept filled etc.  He was the best. The wait staff in the restaurants were pleasant and friendly on the nights we were there.  The only drawback was never asked if wanted more on any of the servings, another cutback?4) I wish I could say the same about the rest of the crew, as a roll call member stated, never have saw so many frowning, unsmiling working people anywhere !!  The buffet crew were beyond belief !  We had to get our own drinks everytime, never even offered refills, and few times, never had our plates cleaned off the table.   The one Maitre'D in the Caribe buffet was extremely rude, at one point, as he walked past our table he said out loud, Ah Fungu(excuse the spelling).   Excuse Me??  think he better find another line of work.   We never saw the cruise director, not once at any of the activities we went to & we did alot of them.  Our last cruise, the guy was everywhere ! We didn't think he slept or stopped the whole time!  We met/saw the asst director and all the other social activities crew but never the main guy, maybe he didn't exist?  Alot of the crew on this ship are ending their contracts this coming week & I hope the new crew has better attitudes and know how to smile & say Hello.  5) Know theres a recession going on but the lack of usual activities on board was very sad.  Feel that this ship was using MUTS to keep us entertained rather than the usual silly games & contests etc.  Once a day, there would be some kind of activity by one of the pools and not made known very well unless happen to be by the pool or remembered from the Patter list.  Basically, the other activities were either additional costs or things like bridge playing, workshops etc.  Once or twice a day there would be a game or such thing but usually during the dinner hours or when most people would be ashore.  Bingo was every day but again right around the 1st dinner hour.  The activities they did have were fun and enjoyed them.  Felt that this ship had cut back or was aiming towards the more sedentary types. 6) Mostly everyone else on our roll call wasn't bothered by this but we found the ship to really move alot, from side to side, especially when going full speed over the Caribbean Sea (there was no bad weather) and there was alot of vibration.  Even felt it on the toilet seat and we were on the 12th deck.  One night it was rolling so much, we both had to leave our dinners, or I would have gotten sick in the dining room and I was taking Dramamine.    So we just skipped eating that night.   Been on 3 cruises and never felt so much movement and one cruise was in a OV sea level cabin,in the back of the ship.  7) The food in the dining rooms was good, the buffets were ... buffet food, have had more choices & better here in buffets in our area but there was plenty & filled us. Not many choices & basically same everyday.    My only complaint was, went to the Crown Grill one night, ordered the Pork Chop, started to eat it & it was pink, then dark pink in the middle.  I stopped eating it, where I come from, pork s/b white or its not cooked enough.  When the waiter came to see how we were doing, & saw the chop on my plate, asked why, so told him it wasn't cooked completely.  He told me its up to the Chef's discretion on how he wants to cook the food and this is how he wanted this to be cooked & walked away !!  Didn't offer to get another one, or to have this one cooked more, nothing.   My DH wanted to call him back & have it bought back to kitchen but I was concerned at what they would do to it if we did so told him to forget it.  Thought that maybe they would take a few $ off the bill to make amends, but nope, so this waiter didn't get the tip he should have.  This was very disturbing to me, know the charge for these rest. are not even close to what would pay in a rest at home, but did expect better service in it.8) Found the ship decor to be very dark, all dark paneling & trim, DH said it reminded him of the Titanic.  even the dining rooms were dark, some tables were in very dark areas that people could barely see the food.  One lounge by the theatre was a heavy smoking one & the doors were always open, so the smoke lingered out in the hall leading to the theatre entrance.9) Most of the entertainment was mediocre, didn't expect bdwy talent but could have been better. only Bert Stratton, piano player/comedian was terrific. One of the main attractions in the Piazza was a lady from Russia who was an award winning hula hoop person. A one time performance was enough, not everyday and not as a main attraction in the main area of ship.  10) We don't have high tastes, like very simple foods and are happy with a clean room/bed/linens and good places to visit. We believe that you make your own good time & don't depend on others or things to do so for us.  I straightened the bed out every morning so the steward didn't have to, things like that.  So wasn't expecting royalty service or gourmet foods or wanted that.  But this cruise line/ship didn't even meet most of what we have had on other lines and thought would have on this one, especially since always thought Princess was on the high end of the cruise ship lines.   11) Will we go on another Princess cruise? Never say never but doubt it.  This might be an example of the whole industry cutting back etc but don't know. Will wait till other people we know come back from their cruises this yr on other lines to see how things went on theirs.  But we were disappointed at the level of service and regard for us passengers on this ship.  As we all know, this is just two peoples opinions out of 3100 people on board, so there prob will be more positive opinions than ours. Everyone has their own reasons,choices,experiences & opinions.  So read ours & all the others here & then go on your cruise and enjoy yourselves & make your own good time.  Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
We arrived in Seattle on Thursday for a Saturday sail. We stayed at the Shafer Baillie Mansion B & B. Fifty-dollar taxi from airport. This is a beautifully restored three-story house on Seattle's "Millionaires Row". ... Read More
We arrived in Seattle on Thursday for a Saturday sail. We stayed at the Shafer Baillie Mansion B & B. Fifty-dollar taxi from airport. This is a beautifully restored three-story house on Seattle's "Millionaires Row". Old water tower one block away in a nice park provides a great view of Seattle. Walk to downtown is 2.25 miles down hill. Number 10 bus stops one block from B & B. Too many eateries and pubs and great happy hours in Seattle! Taxi to port was $22. We arrived 30 minutes before boarding. Ship check-in was fast and orderly. We went straight to the Lido deck for buffet lunch - OK but I think crew is not up to speed as they restock for the coming cruise. We returned to our cabin to find our luggage had been delivered. We had ocean view cabins this obstructed views as advertised. Lifeboats obstructed the bottom third of 4' X 3' window. We could not see straight down but could see water and sites straight out - not bad. Cabin is furnished basic with two twins pushed together two night stands, desk, two chairs, TV and refrigerator. Closet area was of good size. Now for the bathroom think small. There is no sharing a shower here. It is pretty much a one-person room. But if I was to choose between my house and the cabin I would take the cruise you make do. We were located over the casino but never heard a sound. The Golden Princess was beautiful. It had a feeling of class without all Las Vegas glitz of Carnival. Many reviewers had mentioned how spacious the ship feels with 2600 passengers. I was skeptical but it was true. We moved about freely and had little problems with seating at shows. Early main shows fill faster. This was our first experience with open seating dinning. We loved the freedom of eating on our time schedule. We made one dinner reservations one night but all other nights we just showed up and walked in or waited no longer than 10 minutes. We had no complaints on the food. Many dinner options allowed us to try different dishes each night. All breads, pastries and ice cream are made on board 24 hrs per day and are wonderful. Soft-serve ice cream is available free on the Lido deck 11am to 9pm. The ship crew top to bottom was very attentive and courteous. Princess must continuously work with the crew to achieve this service. Three large production entertainment shows were presented. The cast was very talented and worked their butt's off. The main show room seats 700+, all with good site lines. A comedian and magician also presented. Don't miss the backstage tour! I would of liked to see live entertainment on the pool side decks. A huge outdoor video screen shows movies, travel videos, concerts and you can play PS3 video games. Princess has introduced a "Serenity" area on some ships, which provides luxury lounge chairs, towels, privet pool and servers for $10 per half day. Few passengers elected to separate themselves from the general public. I hope Princess will return this space to all. Don't miss cruising Alaska. The scenery on both sides of the ship is unsurpassed for a cruise. We saw seals and countless whales this trip, unbelievable blue icebergs along side the ship and numerous water falls.Our first cruise with Princess was all we hoped for and we will be back.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
Background Information:My husband and I are from South Dakota and this was our 5th cruise on Princess and second on the Caribbean Princess.  We flew into LGA the day before our cruise and stayed in Brooklyn.  We arrived, by car service, ... Read More
Background Information:My husband and I are from South Dakota and this was our 5th cruise on Princess and second on the Caribbean Princess.  We flew into LGA the day before our cruise and stayed in Brooklyn.  We arrived, by car service, at the cruise pier at about 11:45am and were on board within 10 minutes!  The embarkation process was a breeze and very well organized.  Our room was C-750 the St. Kits Suite.  Excellent room, lots of storage, wonderful shower and Jacuzzi tub with jets, spacious balcony with comfortable furniture.  However, our room steward was not very friendly or energetic and rarely went "the extra mile."  He seemed burned out.  I asked him how long he has been with Princess and he said 14 years.  On three occasions I was had both of my hands full, with food and beverages, and he'd see me in the hallway and would not help open our stateroom door.  The 4th time this happened I said aloud, "could you please help me open my room, my hands are rather full."  Things we found to be exceptional: Laundry service Sergio and Franco, both head waiters in the Coral Dining room.  Both gentleman were very helpful, friendly, and truly looked like they enjoyed their job and enjoyed seeing guests happy.  They always treated us with respect and went the extra mile to make our evening dining experience terrific. As a "perk" for suite guests we were offered a seated, formal breakfast each day in Sabatinis.  Terrific, cook to order, breakfast options with very pleasant and helpful service.  A delightful way to start each day and one of our favorite parts of our vacation was breakfast each day at Sabatinis.  However, the head waiter at Sabatinis was distant and cold towards us.  He never made an effort to visit with us, or check on our meal. The two servers were always working their tails off as he stood at the front of the restaurant looking bored. Both my husband and I were very impressed by the cleanliness of the ship and also the professional appearance of all of the crew.  Their uniforms were always pressed and clean and ship looked very well taken care of.  Walking on the promenade each day we always saw the deck crew cleaning, repairing, painting, etc. The fruit on board was delicious and they had a wide selection of fruit each day.  Sadly about half way through the cruise I asked for some berries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, etc and they told me they had run out... Pursers desk staff were always very helpful and pleasant.  We only visited the pursers desks a few times, however when we did they were always quick to help and never seemed to mind. Showers/bathrooms- excellent water pressure and selection of bath products provided.  The robes in our suite were also amazing and both my husband and I used them often. Pizza and ice cream!  Each day in the formal dining room for both lunch and dinner Princess has 3-4 homemade ice creams, sorbets and yogurts.  They were simply amazing...the best ice cream I've ever had.  The desserts overall on Princess were terrific.  The internet worked much more quickly then I had expected and the computer room "manager" was helpful in answering questions. The Head Waiters did a nice job of enforcing dress code in the formal dining rooms at night.  The servers who delivered room service were always very pleasant and helpful. The comedians and magicians on board were terrific.  Things we found to be good, but could use some improvement My husband and I both bought the soda card.  When getting a Diet Coke at one of the bars it was very hit and miss as to if it would be a "good" Diet Coke.  Too often the soda was flat and was low on carbonation.  In the Coral dining room at dinner time it was very difficult to receive a Diet Coke.  We would often have to ask 2-3 times for a Diet Coke and only got a refill twice...both times we had to ask for the refill.  The servers were not eager, or helpful to go and get fountain soda at dinner time.  Overall food choices and quality.  We had good luck with the food selection and quality on board.  We of course had some truly exceptional meals and a few that were a flop.  However, over the course of 9 days and lots of snacks, and of course full meals we were very pleased.  The art director was pleasant and moved the auctions along at a rather brisk pace.  I was impressed by his knowledge and his speed.  We didn't buy anything on this voyage, however enjoyed attending a few of the auctions. Room service was good...not great.  Another "perk" for being in a suite was the opportunity to order off the "formal" dining room menus for both lunch and dinner.   We LOVED being able to enjoy lunch on our balcony vs. going to the dining room.  However, you could only order lunch until 1:30pm.  We often had a later breakfast so would call about 1:00-1:15ish each day to order.  Frequently we got "scolded" by the crew calling in our too late.  "Don't you know the dining room closes in 15 minutes?"  After being spoken to rudely twice I refused to place the order each day and had my husband call.  J  On a funny note- one day they had four-cheese pasta on the menu.  We order the four- cheese pasta that day and when our food arrived we received four orders of pasta!    Below Average/ Needs Improvement ·        The Lotus Spa, in my opinion, way over sold passes to the Thermal Suite.  I often tried to utilize the thermal suite to find all the thermal beds had been taken.  This created for a lot of frustration.   ·        Our room steward was lacking in energy, and the "drive" to do more then just make our bed.  ·        Where have all the sports and leisure activities gone?  My husband and I were very disappointed that the Caribbean Princess has eliminated a number of their recreational games/activities to increase space for services which require a "nominal fee"  The paddle tennis court, mini golf, walking and jogging track, shuffleboard, and all but 2 ping pong tables are gone!!  This was very frustrating and disheartening to see.  The ship only had 2 ping pong tables and the paddles were in horrific shape.  Not one was in good condition... ·        The floral department did an absolutely horrible job on our bouquet that came with our suite.  In fact, I was certain that the flowers were left in our room from the previous week and were being reused.  The flowers looked half dead and the leaves were wilted and old.  The majority of the flowers were carnations...cheap!  Well before our cruise was over the entire bouquet was dead. ·        Lots of sales push throughout the week.  The one that still sticks out in my mind was they had a Lotus Spa employee on a table rather close to the dining rooms before dinner one night receiving acupuncture!  She had needles in her head, arms, hands and feet.  Not the most appetizing image before a semi-formal dinner.   Overall we enjoyed our time at sea and came home relaxed and overall pleased with our vacation.  Our next cruise...maybe Princess...maybe time to look at a change.  Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
Since we are LI, NY residents, departure from Red Hook Brooklyn was great. We parked at the Pier and boarded the ship by noon. It was smooth and efficient. We proceeded to book a spot in the Santuary a great adults only area with plush ... Read More
Since we are LI, NY residents, departure from Red Hook Brooklyn was great. We parked at the Pier and boarded the ship by noon. It was smooth and efficient. We proceeded to book a spot in the Santuary a great adults only area with plush seats and lots of quiet and privacy- well worth the additional money- The cabin was ready and our cabin attendant Wilfred was great- the room was very clean and beds turned down each evening- no towel animals on princess. We had a mini suite which was very comfortable. Lots of closet space a decent bathroom that included a full sized tub. We originally wanted the anytime dining but after the first evening decided it wasn't for us- the waiters were like robots and the head waiter in that dining room not very warm or caring. We changed our dining to regular scheduled dining- that worked out great- our waiter Edgar and Isiodore his assistant were wonderful. We dined one evening in the Crown Grill- it was okay- not as good as the restaurants on Celebrity. The food also wasn't nearly as plentiful as the choices we had on Celebrity as we recently sailed on the Solstice. The public spaces on the ship were very crowded, many nights people would have to stand in the theatre as no seats were available for them- Guests would save seats and many children were sitting in the front of the theatre despite announcements saying "no saving seats or children in the first three rows". However no enforcement of the policies made the announcements silly and useless. I had heard that the Caribbean Princess had added cabins, but apparently not much though into increasing the size of all other areas to hold the large crowds. Seats at the regular pool and buffet were difficult to find if at all, That goodness we had reserved spots at the Sanctuary for the entire cruise. The entertainment was good. We especially enjoyed the piano playing and singing by Rose Winters in one of the lounges and would dash to the lounge most evening to enjoy her talent. The shops on the ship were mediocre. We typically purchase jewelry and many other items in the gift shops, but really couldn't find much of interest on this sailing. I had my hair done twice in the salon. The operators were great and very attentive. Drinks appeared to be more expensive then on most ships. Due to a Hurricane, our ports were changed, but it really didn't matter to us as we sailed into perfect weather, very smooth sailing and at the ports that we found not interesting stayed on board the ship. Despite the crowding and mediocre food- we had a great time. My husband lost weight and I stayed the same. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
We had an aft balcony on our Sapphire cruisetour (Kenai Explorer). It was a quiet room, even despite the fact it was located directly above Club Fusion. Day one: We booked our cruise transfers directly through Princess according to our ... Read More
We had an aft balcony on our Sapphire cruisetour (Kenai Explorer). It was a quiet room, even despite the fact it was located directly above Club Fusion. Day one: We booked our cruise transfers directly through Princess according to our travel agent. However, once we arrived at the appropriate desk, we found that our names were not on the list and we had to go through Canadian customs, an extra 40-minute process. Throughout the airport, Princess Cruises personnel guided us through the twisting airport hallways and escalators to our bus transportation to the dock, which was nice and reassuring. At the bus, no one checked to see whether we had purchased our transfers or not. Is this included for all cruiselines? When we boarded the ship, we found the stewards and the staff very courteous. No foam mattress topper was present even though I had faxed in my request one week prior. We also had to ask for robes, even though I had specified my preference already on the Cruise Personalizer online. And by the way, it's a memory foam mattress, about 1 1/2 inches thick, which is a higher quality than the egg crate kind. My husband and I decided that we would have preferred a side balcony instead of the aft balcony. When passing by land, I would rather watch the land pass by than watching the wake. The shower was tiny, with just enough room to stand. And if you didn't pull the curtain over carefully, the water from the shower will drench the floor. I loved that there was a different variety of food every day at the buffets and the dining rooms for lunch and dinner. Moreover, there was pizza, soft serve vanilla and chocolate ice cream, and a grill serving hot dogs, hamburgers, etc. all of which was available every day from 11am to 6pm. At the buffet, we felt like the waiters almost never approached us, if we wanted something to drink. We discovered that, most of the time, when a waiter asks you if you would like something to drink, he actually meant alcoholic drinks, for which he would get a tip. He was, however, obliged to get you your coffee, ice tea, or water if that's what you wanted. Therefore, we hardly got table service for drinks because apparently we didn't look like the drinking type. Unlike our Carnival cruise 5 years ago, some of the shows repeated for 2 days, instead of a different singing/dancing show to watch every night. A fresh fruit basket (oranges, bananas, pears, kiwi, apples) can be requested to be brought to your room, to be refreshed daily on request. Wireless Internet: 500 Minutes for $175 $0.35/Minute 250 Minutes for $100 $0.40/Minute 150 Minutes for $75 $0.50/Minute 100 Minutes for $55 $0.55/Minute Day 2: I woke up to the ship bobbing back and forth, making me feel dizzy. This lasted for a few hours, then the ship became more steady. This was the only time the ship was not steady, which was different from our Mexican Riviera trip on Carnival, during which I would marvel that the dancers on the stage nightly did not fall frequently on stage as it rocked back and forth. The view from all around the ship was all ocean. We exercised in the fitness room. There were Arc walkers, treadmills, bicycles, free weights, and some stability balls, as well as machines. No refreshments were available there. Bottled water could be purchased for $2 each. Thankfully, there was a drinking fountain. A steam room and sauna could be found in the locker rooms. Our room is kept clean as housekeeping (our friendly Freddie) cleaned our room twice a day. That's all he does for 8 months, not being allowed to go on shore all that time, he told us. Waiters, we found, were not necessarily as friendly. The service was spotty as we had to ask for juice at the buffet for breakfast, and often had to get our own drinks, despite the waiters wandering around the room. Even in the more formal dining rooms, the waiter would offer something ("any coffee for you tonight?") and walk away before I could answer. In fact, I had to shout, "Yes, please!" Day3: We took a trip at the port of Kechikan to see the Misty Fjords via float plane. What we did not predict was how nauseous Peter and I would get. Day 4: In Juneau downtown we saw some town drunks and bearded folk. We watched the tram come up and down as we waited for our whale watching tour. Mind you, boats are not allowed more than 200 feet from the whales. Therefore, "seeing whales" means seeing lines of mist and specks from far away, necesitating binoculars and zoom lens of cameras. Day 5: Chilkoot charters took us up to meet the return trip of the White Pass train. We were in a van which had high seats and tinted windows, so it was not a good vehicle from which to sightsee or take pictures. Larry, however, did do frequent stops so we could take pictures. He was a jolly man who chatted with us about Juneau, where he grew up. We discovered later that the Princess bus had large high windows. This was because Chilkoot charters was not at the train depot to take us back to the dock, so we had to bum a ride from the Princess tour bus. Day 6: This was the day we were to cruise up to Glacier Bay. However, we only arrived at the entrance and were in front of the first glacier when at 9am the captain announced that we would be leaving due to a storm. Needless to say, we were disappointed to miss the best part of an Alaskan trip! On the way out of the Inland Passage, for the next 24 hours, the stormy waters caused the ship to rock violently back and forth, and that night I couldn't sleep. The dancing show was cancelled due to the danger of the dancers falling on stage. Day 7: College Fjord. We arrived at a glacier, in front of which were many sea lions lounging around. From as far as the cruise ship, they looked like slugs. This evening we were to pack and tag our luggage and place them outside the room from 6pm to 10pm to be collected by staff. We were only allowed one tote bag sized carry on to take along with us. Day 8: We were to vacate our room at 8am. The disembarkation procedure was easy and uncrowded due to different meeting times and places for different groups of passengers. CRUISETOUR: Kenai Princess Lodge is a small "resort", isolated on its own. There were two trails to explore the surrounding forest and river, where you had to be careful of bears as well as mosquitoes. I wished I had brought more insect repellant. The "lodges" were very nice on the outside. On the inside, the rooms were big. The floors were not as clean as we would expect for paying an average of $350 a night. There was plenty of dust in the corners as well as cobwebs in the bathroom corners, and it was obvious the floor was not cleaned during the days we were there. The shower curtain smelled as moldy as they looked. We did immensely enjoy the wood burning stove in our room. A small fitness room had 2 stationary bikes, a treadmill, and 2 ellipticals. Body lotion in the room was available only by request. We regretted not bringing our Princess cruise slippers along to use in the lodge. As Los Angeles food connoisseurs, we were even impressed by the food at the restaurant. There was a 3-course prix fixe menu from 5:30pm to 6:30pm for $24 dollars and we ordered prime rib for the main course. Instead of the steak being cooked "medium" in the middles, it was cooked medium through most of the steak, which was delicious. Two dollars for a refillable glass of coke was a bargain for Peter, who missed having his usual coke the past week on the cruise. The next morning we returned for breakfast. Even though it was half an hour until closing, there was no hostess in sight, and we waited for several minutes. Peter was hungry and tired. I looked around the entrance, and asked a nearby waitress, "Is there someone working at the front?" She replied as if she hadn't heard me,"The hostess will seat you." I said, "But there's no hostess here." She ignored me. Finally, the hostess appeared and made us wait several more minutes, saying, "sorry, we're preparing for lunch and we have to prepare the table back to breakfast." I looked at my watch. It was still going to be an hour and a half until their lunch hours opened. I looked out at the dining room, and there were no tables being changed in any way. After waiting a few minutes, the hostess led us to a table. What annoyed me further, was that another couple arrived 15 minutes before breakfast ended and got seated right away. They were not told there was a table that had to be prepared for them, while no tables were being altered in any way. On our way to the Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge, we stopped by Anchorage. we ate at the . The food was delicious. Peter had the blackened Alaskan halibut, and I had a rockfish po'boy sandwich, the bread was toasted crispy, the way I liked it. When we arrived at the Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge, there were two full-size beds, instead of one king bed for us. I had booked this vacation a year in advance! Our travel agent understood it was to be a honeymoon-type of vacation. I called to ask for a change of room, and when we arrived at the new room, it was again a couple of full size beds instead of the queen beds promised. By this time, we were too tired to ask for another change of room. Sure enough, six hours later, our luggage had not been delivered to our room. I called the front desk for the 3rd time after being reassured by the front desk several times earlier that day that the "bellman is taking care of it." Which I'd been dubious about since they had not actually called the bellman to check on it. Truly, it seemed that each time I called the front desk, no matter whom I spoke to, he or she would promise something without checking on it. So when I called the front desk yet again in the evening, the front desk person said, "The bellman will look for your luggage." I said, "You mean, is it lost, or what happened?" He said, "I'm talking to him right now," and I heard him in the background telling the bellman about our lost luggage. I had to explain to them that we changed rooms. Then I had to explain that I suspected our luggage had been delivered to our original room. Overall, Alaska was beautiful and the luggage transportation from ship, throughout the hotel hopping was seamless, as long as you don't request another room. So most of the time we had a relaxing vacation and felt worry-free. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
My husband and I just got back from 12 days on the Ruby Princess. We left from Venice and cruised to Athens, Kusadasi, Istanbul, Monte Carlo, Naples, Rome, Florence, Mykonos, and ended in Barcelona. Overall we had a great time on the ... Read More
My husband and I just got back from 12 days on the Ruby Princess. We left from Venice and cruised to Athens, Kusadasi, Istanbul, Monte Carlo, Naples, Rome, Florence, Mykonos, and ended in Barcelona. Overall we had a great time on the ship. We had a balcony cabin on the Lido Deck due to a last minute upgrade from Princess. Cabin and staff: The cabin was small but very comfortable with a nice balcony with two chairs and a table which we spent a lot of time outside on. The bed was very comfortable and the bathroom was standard (great shower pressure). There was two dressers and a chair and a TV on top of a cabinet with a refrigerator. A complimentary robe was provided. The walls were a bit thin but overall we enjoyed the cabin and had no complaints. Boarding and disembarking the ship was very easy and Princess has it down pat. They are very organized with regard to tours and getting on and off the ship. Most of the staff was extremely helpful and nice (especially our cabin steward). Food: The food was okay. We ate breakfast in the buffet and it was large and full of hot and cold items. We avoided lunch at the buffet and dinner after the first night. Food wasn't so great. Service at the buffet was hit or miss. The anytime dining was great as we were not hungry the same time each day due to all the ports we visited. The main dining rooms was very organized and the food was good. I would say not outstanding but we didn't expect 5 star food. Most of the food was good and you had a lot of choices. We had pizza and a hamburger at the grill which was very good. We did not pay the extra to eat at their signature restaurants. Entertainment: We are not into the typical cruise shows and spend many nights up on deck watching movies under the stars which were great. I think we watched 6 of 8 movies including Star Trek, Terminator, The Proposal, Angels and Demons, etc. Something for everyone. There was plenty of room and the lounge chairs were cushioned and comfortable. The staff handed out blankets and popcorn and then came by at the end with milk and cookies (a very nice touch). Other than that I cannot comment on the larger shows. Tours: The cruise tours were very expensive and I researched options and we booked private tours at less money. There were a lot of complaints about the tours among fellow passengers (too many people and could not keep up with the guide). I would suggest if you are able to book private tours or find you own company in lieu of Princess. That was you save money and get a much better and more personal experience. For example we paid 350 euro/$500 (4 of us) for a tour of Pisa/Florence and the same tour on princess (only difference was lunch included) was $369 a person. Spa: I did have a massage as there were a lot of special deals. I didn't see that many people using the gym facilities which were clean and very nice. I used the treadmill and stair stepper a few times and there was no wait. The spa staff was very nice and helpful. Overall, the Ruby Princess was a great ship (very large) and comfortable with lots of choices for entertainment and food. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
Originally my wife and I were to be married on the Crown Princess on the 3/1/09 sailing, but some post-surgery complications caused us to cancel just two days shy of the sail date. The rest of our wedding party (ten people) sailed without ... Read More
Originally my wife and I were to be married on the Crown Princess on the 3/1/09 sailing, but some post-surgery complications caused us to cancel just two days shy of the sail date. The rest of our wedding party (ten people) sailed without the bride and groom. With the health issues behind us, we rescheduled for the 10/11/09 sailing on the Emerald Princess (same itinerary as the Crown Princess from the spring). This time, my wife's parents and my father joined us for a party of five. We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale Saturday 10/10 in the evening and went to our hotel (Comfort Inn Airport/Cruise Port South, 2520 Stirling Rd., Hollywood, FL). No complaints on the hotel, although we were only there for 12 hours or so! Room was clean and quiet. The hotel seemed as though it had a nice pool area, although we didn't use it on this visit. EMBARKATION: Due to our hotel's shuttle schedule, we arrived at the port at 1145a. We were assigned to Group 8 (since we aren't yet Elite or Platinum...this was our first Princess cruise) and we told boarding would begin at 1230p. While waiting in the embarkation lounge, the biggest problem was we couldn't hear the public address system very well...sounded like all the adults do in the Peanuts cartoon specials! Once our group was called, the embarkation went smoothly: Lines are divided up by deck. Our cabin was on Dolphin and the line there was only a few parties in front of us. The check-in process went very smoothly and five minutes later we were walking onto the ship. CABIN: Our cabin was ready for us and once we were there, we met Luiz from Mexico, our cabin steward for the trip. He asked about any special requests we had and brought us complimentary champagne prior to sailing. We had various requests for him throughout the trip (some pertaining to the upcoming wedding as my fiancee needed her wedding dress pressed, etc) and he was responsive to us. The only thing we didn't get from him when asked was on the last day: We never received our questionnaires for the trip, despite asking for them twice. As I wanted to be sure that certain staff members were recognized, I just filled out cards at the Passenger Services deck instead. SHIP: It did take us a few days to figure out whether we were walking towards the back of the ship or the front, but that's happened to me every single cruise, so I don't have any specific fault there. One helpful hint: For the floors with cabins, the carpeting has red striping on the port side; blue striping on the starboard side. This helps you figure out where you are coming out of the elevators. The EP has two adult-only pools (the Sanctuary area and the pool on Riviera Deck - 14 aft) and we used the Terrace pool, but didn't want to pony up for the extra charge for the Sanctuary. The other pools located on Lido Deck (Calypso and Neptune)tended to be most crowded on sea days -- no big shocker there. Other times although the pools were definitely used, we didn't feel overly cramped. Mornings found the pools much less crowded. I have read on other reviews about the infamous "Chair Hogs." I'm not sure how it worked on Lido Deck (as we wanted to be on the open air decks instead), but we found we could walk up on the Sun Deck (16) anytime and find chairs without issue. The Piazza area on Plaza Deck (5) had "street performers," some of which were quite good. The Plaza also has Vines the wine and sushi bar; International Cafe, which had specialty coffees and some incredible looking bakery -- I managed to resist that for once; the Internet Cafe and Future Cruise Sales. I should add that Vines and International Cafe have surcharges for items. The Princess Fine Art Gallery is located on this deck as well, but that isn't one of my areas of interest, so I don't have anything to add other than I walked through it! We ended up spending much of our time in Club Fusion -- Promenade Deck (7) aft. Here one can find various activities led by the Cruise Director Staff (line dancing, bingo, "Newlywed Game" variants, etc), but we did come in to listen to music from time to time. I have yet to figure out where all the crowds were on this voyage. Aside from the Lido Deck being busy on sea days and the line to disembark at ports, it just did not seem crowded. We rarely had to wait for an elevator in the evenings and were able to move about the ship very easily. ENTERTAINMENT: This was the first time we saw shows on a cruise. We sat through comedian Kevin Hughes, some performances by the "house band" Temperature, part of hypnotist Tim Triplett's show and comedian Jim McDonald. Of these shows, I enjoyed McDonald's act the best, but I think whether you enjoy the shows will be solely based on personal taste. I did not attend any of the Vegas-style reviews. The ship's activities include the usual assortment of daily trivia, art auctions, dancing, but Princess also includes Movies Under the Stars on the big screen above the Lido Deck. Features on our cruise included X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the new Star Trek movie, as well as football on Sunday and Monday and other recent film/concert releases. FOOD: Keep in mind that I have only cruised three times so far over ten years, so I can't speak to the changes in how cuisine on cruise lines has changed over the past decades, but in general, the food on EP is very good. My wife enjoyed her share of lobster (one of her favorites) and of the food in the Botticelli Dining Room, the only dish that didn't meet my expectations was a lamb dish. It was tender, but didn't seem as flavorful as I would have expected. Taking that aside, however, I have no complaints about the food in the main dining room. There is a Pizza and Ice Cream Bar located on Lido Deck. The pizza was good but I can't speak to any experience with the ice cream. Specialty Restaurants: If you go to Sabatini's, my advice is GO HUNGRY. Primarily, you pick your main course and then all other dishes are offered to you in small quantities. I should note, however, several "small quantities" add up to one big meal if you partake of most of the courses! There is a cover charge of US$25 per person. Crown Grill: Also a cover charge of US$25, but add an additional $9 per person if you want lobster. The food in the Crown was very good, but since I had such good experiences in the main dining room, I'm not sure I would make the trip again. Don't take that as any slight against the Crown; I was just perfectly satisfied on the whole by dining in Botticelli. DINING STAFF: We were at Table 25 in Botticelli. Our waiter, Eduardo from Portugal was, by far, the best waiter I have had on any of my cruises. He was great to talk with, very knowledgeable about the items on the menu. He was assisted by Junior Waiter Eddie from the Philippines. This duo was just outstanding at meeting our needs and I hope that Princess does indeed recognize them for fantastic service to passengers. BAR STAFF: Overall the staff was polite; we had no instances of staff treating us with anything less than respect. Eileesha, who was working on Lido Deck near one of the pools, and Nikloshe in Club Fusion were two of the people that stood out. I did purchase a soda card and made a point to make sure that was a money-maker for me: I have to admit I did up my soda intake a bit until I was sure I had enough sodas to justify the US$29 charge (approximately 15 sodas over the course of the cruise will get you even); sodas are another "additional charge" item for Princess. CRUISE DIRECTOR STAFF: On our voyage, Cruise Director Lisa Ball and Deputy Cruise Director "Hollywood" were very visible from early in the morning until late at night. The other members of the CD staff (Hi, Renee!) were great as well. I certainly couldn't keep up with their schedules. OTHER: As mentioned at the beginning of the review, my wife and I were married on this voyage. Timing worked out a bit strange as we were married on the second sea day which was the last day of the voyage. We were married in the Hearts & Minds Chapel on Sun Deck (16) by the ship's captain, Giorgio Pomata. Asst Purser Michelle Holbrook was our contact on the ship and she was simply fantastic in dealing with our endless assortment of questions. As part of our wedding package, we purchased "The Eternal Collection," which is a fancy way of saying "all our wedding photos on CD." I have to say we were NOT disappointed. Rachel, one of the ship's photographers, did an amazing job. We had over 330 pictures and we consider more than 80% of them to be great pictures. I have to admit, I didn't expect the quality or quantity of our pictures to be as good as they were! Speaking of pictures, one has the option to purchase the candid or posed photos on board, of course. Pictures run in the US$15-20 range, depending on size of the picture. While we did purchase two photos on-board, for the majority of them we decided to save the money instead. The weather for this voyage (October 11-18, 2009) was fantastic. Temps ranged from 85-93F (29-33C) during the day and I think we had about four hours of rain the entire trip. Our stop in St. Thomas was cloudy, but otherwise sunshine...and a lot of it! DISEMBARKATION: Well, not my favorite time to begin with, but this is the area that fell short. We were scheduled for an 8am and I think we finally were allowed to get off the ship at 9:30am. I believe part of the delay was due to a medical emergency that occurred on the Plaza near the walkway to the pier, but we were well into a delay before that occurred. The process, once we left the ship, took approximately 20 minutes for us to get our bags and clear customs. We were able to get a cab after only a few minutes waiting in line. OVERALL: I have cruised on Carnival, Celebrity and Princess in the past. While one needs to guard the wallet -- or rather the shipboard account -- for charges on some items, overall, I would cruise with Princess again without question. Maybe that is due to the special occasion of my wedding on-board, but I feel that we had a great cruise on the Emerald Princess, October 11-18, 2009. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
Background We're a couple aged 41 and 51, and this was our second cruise. We had cruised the Western Caribbean on the Carnival Valor in 2007 and had enjoyed it so much that we wanted to cruise again and try a different cruise line. ... Read More
Background We're a couple aged 41 and 51, and this was our second cruise. We had cruised the Western Caribbean on the Carnival Valor in 2007 and had enjoyed it so much that we wanted to cruise again and try a different cruise line. We were looking for a beautiful and attractive ship from a premium cruise line offering flexible dining and affordable fares, so we chose the Emerald Princess. Embarkation We liked Fort Lauderdale better than Miami. We found the airport very welcoming. We stayed overnight the day before our cruise and found the city very nice and pleasant. We got to the port around 12h30 noon. There was already a long line outside the terminal but it moved quickly and within a few minutes we stood in line in front of the check-in counters that were identified with the deck names. The check-in was a breeze and by 1 pm we were already on board the ship. Our lifeboat drill was held in Club Fusion around 4pm and took about 15 minutes. Cabin We had a standard balcony cabin on deck 12 near the stern of the ship. The walk-in closet was a nice feature. The tiny shower stall had a curtain and bars of soap and samplers of shampoo were provided instead of a dispenser mounted on the wall. We had requested an egg-crate mattress and found the bed and the pillows very comfortable. There was an individual air-conditioning system, a flat screen TV above the minibar, plus a small desk and a chair. We experienced some vibrations sometimes but it didn't bother us. Our cabin steward was very friendly and did a good job. Ship in general She's a very beautiful and attractive ship. The public rooms are all tastefully decorated in subdued earth tone colors and the decor is similar throughout the ship. There's nothing gaudy here, all the spaces are luxurious, pleasant and inviting. The Italian-style Piazza is small but very nice. However, we found the decor in the Princess Theater rather plain. The indoor space is generous and we rarely felt it was crowded but sometimes we had to wait a while for the elevators. In comparison to our first cruise, we found that the ship was pitching and rolling a lot even though the sea was calm, making both of us feel seasick sometimes. The average age on board was 50-60, and really not many kids or teens. Dining We had Anytime Dining and it worked just fine for us. We usually went for dinner to the Da Vinci dining room around 8 pm and requested a table for two. There was usually no wait at all and we always got a table for two without any problem. We were given a pager twice and our table got ready in less than 10 minutes. We found the dining room very nice, cozy and not noisy at all. The service was good and quick, and the food was very good. All in all, Anytime Dining is a well-run feature. We had dinner one night at Sabatini's. It was really the best meal of our cruise. We got an impressive selection of cold appetizers, hot appetizers, soup and pastas, then the entrEe, and it ended with the dessert. Everything was so good and we ate a lot. The $20 per person fee was really worth it! The Horizon Court buffet was disappointing. The decor was nice and cozy but eating from plastic plates wasn't exactly what I had expected. We also found that the stations area was cramped and most of all we found that the buffet was poor. There wasn't a lot of choice, it was disorganized and not looking good, and there wasn't any mouth-watering cake or dessert of any kind. At breakfast, it was not possible to get an omelet cooked on the spot in front of you. It was totally not like what we had seen earlier on the Carnival Valor and certainly not suitable for a so-called premium cruise line. Having beverages delivered to the table was nice, though. We liked very much the International Cafe, located just off the Piazza, where we could sit down and people-watch while sipping our cappuccino. There were a few tables and waiters came at the table to take the order. I bought a coffee card good for 15 specialized coffees for $24 (gratuities excluded). Plus there was a nice selection of croissants, pastries, danishes and sandwiches, most of them free of charge. We also liked Vines, also nearby the Piazza, where we had cheese and wine one night and sushi and wine one other night. Outdoor areas We found that the outdoor space was generous and beautiful. The outdoor promenade on deck 7 was a nice place to stroll and relax. It went all around the ship and had many padded wooden chairs. The terrace on top of the bridge was a well-kept secret and you could access it through exit doors located at the end of the hallways on deck 15. We liked the two adult-only pools and hot tubs located at both ends of the ship. At the stern was the Terrace pool from where the decks rose in tiers. We liked the few outdoor tables on the Horizon terrace (overlooking the Terrace pool and the wake) for al fresco breakfasts and lunches. Better yet, the tables and the padded chairs by the two small fountains on the deck above (outside Sabatini's and Adagio). At the bow on deck 16, the Lotus Spa pool was very nice and had a few padded loungers. It was a little bit hidden and better accessible from the deck above via a flight of stairs. It was designated as a quiet area but unfortunately some people were ignoring those rules while we were there. Also, we found that the swim-against-the-current system was noisy when it was turned on and not very appropriate for that so-called quiet area. We liked The Sanctuary with its plush loungers where we spent an afternoon on a day at sea for $10 per person. However, we thought that there was not enough loungers in the sun (most of them were in the shade or partial shade) and that the noise coming from the nearby Lotus Spa pool could be annoying (we heard some people behind us complaining). During sea days the outdoor decks were crowded. Even the Lotus Spa pool and its two small hot tubs could be crowded sometimes. However, we really liked being able to take a hot tub at night under the stars. We didn't go to the Movies Under The Stars but it seemed pretty popular and fun with the loungers specially covered for the occasion. Bars and entertainment We liked Crooners, the martini bar, for pre-dinner cocktails. Adagio was very nice but it seemed that nobody went there, so it lacked some ambiance. The Skywalkers nightclub was always busy late at night. We saw only one show in the Princess theater so that we cannot comment on that, but we liked the quartets that played regularly in the Piazza. Here's what we paid for some drinks (gratuities not included): can of Sprite $1.95, imported beer $5.75, martini $6.50, frozen margarita $6.75, glass of RosE d'Anjou $6.75, glass of Pinot Grigio $7.75, glass of Pouilly FumE $9. There was not many intrusive announcements. However, we found that they were trying too much to draw our attention to shopping with flyers and shopping speeches of all kinds. We even heard at many times crew members asking passengers "Did you go shopping today?". Has shopping become the main reason for cruising today? Ports of call This will be brief because we didn't take any tour. In spite of cloudy skies, Princess Cays was nice and well-organized with lots of things plus a free buffet. In St-Martin, we took a cab to Marigot on the French side and had lunch on the terrace of a French bistro overlooking the marina. Before going back on board, we strolled a bit in Philipsburg. In St-Thomas, we took a cab to the beautiful Magen's Bay beach ($4 entrance fee), and after a while we came back to Charlotte Amalie to have lunch and to stroll a little bit. In Grand Turk, we stayed in the cruise facility which had a good sandy beach just a few feet from the pier. Debarkation We paid $20 per person for the EZCheck service. With that service, we got our boarding passes and luggage tags the day before debarkation, allowing us to leave our luggage in the hallway the night before as usual and collect it at our destination only. No hassle with the luggage in the cruise terminal or at the airport and no need to check-in with the airline. Worth it! On the final morning, we were invited to meet at the Crown Grill between 7h30 and 9h00, we showed up around 8h30, waited there about 20 minutes and then we were escorted out the ship. Thumbs up for... - the beauty of the ship - Anytime Dining - Sabatini's - International Cafe - Vines - adult-only pools and hot tubs open day and night - The Sanctuary - Movies Under The Stars - EZCheck Thumbs down for... - Horizon Court - the swim-against-the-current lap pool located in the quiet area - the importance attached to shopping Finally, was our cruise on Princess better than our cruise on Carnival? Is it fair to say that Princess is better than Carnival? The answer is probably no. Princess does a few things better, Carnival does some other things better, but all in all it is certainly similar. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
We just completed our 5th cruise with Princess. My wife and I booked this cruise for my birthday for a romantic getaway and to celebrate. The ship is fantastic. We booked a minisuite which had lots of room compared to a standard balcony. ... Read More
We just completed our 5th cruise with Princess. My wife and I booked this cruise for my birthday for a romantic getaway and to celebrate. The ship is fantastic. We booked a minisuite which had lots of room compared to a standard balcony. The only problem was the balcony stuck out past all other balconies so we felt like we were in a fishbowl with the whole ship able to look down on us. This can put a damper on some romantic time on your balcony. Boarding the ship was a breeze. Quick, no lines, luggage showed up to our room quickly. Now lets get to the food. I have been a cook for 25 years and the food is an extremely important part of the cruise for me. The buffet offered to us after we boarded was TERRIBLE. We have been on 4 other Princess cruises and this had to be the worst food quality we ever experienced. The food was cold and tasted no better than grade school cafeteria food. Other options to the buffet are the Pizza, which was OK, sorry but living in NY we are spoiled with great pizza, the international cafe on deck 5, which seemed to be a well kept secret for most of the cruise. They had good sandwiches, quiche, soup and excellent pastries. Vines on deck 5 also was not well known. They had amazing sushi and other ethnic themed snacks every day. We had them as appetizers each night before dinner. There was no extra charge for these 2 restaurants, I highly recommend them. The reason we had our first course in the bars on deck 5 was due to the food in the main dining rooms. I'll review each by meal time. And although the food was not good, the service was always outstanding. Breakfast was good, not excellent. Every day a special was offered along with made to order breakfast. I had the special every morning. It seemed like it was under the warming lights too long EVERY day. Sometimes it was cold, sometimes so dry I returned it and ordered something else. Eggs cooked to order were always hot and delicious, as were the pancakes. Hash browns were always undercooked and most times cold. Bacon and sausage were cold and undercooked every morning. Fruit was always fresh and delicious. Lunch at the restaurant was good most times, again not excellent. The food was just OK. I would say the quality was slightly below average. The burgers were dry and lukewarm each time we ordered them. If its a burger you want the ones cooked on deck 15 at the burger place were always fresh and hot. Stay away from the buffet. The food we had was horrid each time we tried it. Cold, overcooked, and dried out. Lunch was much better in the main restaurant or the international cafe. Decent pizza was always available on deck 15 as well. Dinner was the most disappointing of all the meals, but only in the main restaurants. We tried the specialty restaurants on 2 nights and had some of the best food we have ever eaten. Most of the food at dinner in the main dining room was either cold or overcooked. The quality of the meals was sub par at best. Out of the 5 nights we ate in the main dining room we had one very good meal, the lamb chops. One night I sent back 2 meals and and wound up eating in the international cafe. Lobster night brought cold overcooked lobster tails, I had the worst veal I ever tried on Italian night. Cioppino, which is one of my favorite meals was inedible, skirt steak was so tough I couldn't eat it. They seem to put great emphasis on their specialty restaurants and no effort into the main dining rooms. Although the food was a huge disappointment the rest of the cruise was excellent. Lots of great entertainment, they had 2 unbelievably funny comedians, current in theater movies in the theater and under the stars, very well produced shows, and a staff that can't do enough for you. The ship itself if well kept, clean and enormous. Even though there were 3400 passengers on the ship, no one area seemed over crowded. I had an outstanding massage, the hot tubs were hot and clean, the pools were well kept, there were 4 of them and 2 were adults only, and we could always find a lounge chair to lay in the sun. At the ports, disembarkation was smooth each time, even when there was no dock and the ships tenders had to take us ashore. It was well organized and ran very smoothly. If food is not an important aspect of your cruise Princess is fantastic way to go. If it is important to you than check out another cruise line, or pay the extra cash and dine at the specialty restaurants every night. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Good embarkation. Close parking to ship. OK food but not great, (really...Chili for dinner?), Front desk staff very cooperative and kept lines down. With my 3 day no-worky a/c. A/C staff said no problem even though it was over 80 ... Read More
Good embarkation. Close parking to ship. OK food but not great, (really...Chili for dinner?), Front desk staff very cooperative and kept lines down. With my 3 day no-worky a/c. A/C staff said no problem even though it was over 80 degrees every night in the room with a/c on max. Front desk staff took the trouble to visit us at night, felt the 82 degrees and called a/c staff who refused to respond, saying there was nothing wrong with the a/c . Front desk moved us to another room and we enjoyed the rest of the cruise. The room next to us had to ask for extra blankets even with a/c off and a/c staff said theirs was fine too. Pretty good tours, ran well. Weather was fantastic. International cafe area needs more seating as usual. Dining staff and room staff were great. Early dinner should be 30 min later and the elite/platinum nightly party should start at 4:30, not five. With the slow service, had difficulty getting and finishing even 1 drink before dinner. Very poor scheduling. Overall we had a great time as always. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We just returned from this great cruise. The Panama Canal was the focus for our trip, and that is why we selected this Princess cruise. We had not sailed on Princess in a while and I had read many comments related to the food and areas for ... Read More
We just returned from this great cruise. The Panama Canal was the focus for our trip, and that is why we selected this Princess cruise. We had not sailed on Princess in a while and I had read many comments related to the food and areas for improvement. Our expectations were more than exceeded. We live in the Northeast so we flew into LA two days before the cruise and stayed a the Doubletree Hotel in San Pedro, very nice, right on the marina, and they had a shuttle that took us to the ferry for Catalina Island as well as to the pier the day of the cruise. Boarding was smooth, we arrived early so we had to wait until almost noon to board , but then it was smooth and quick and we were in our room. Luggage was delivered within 2 hours. The mini suite was nicely laid out , the balcony had a table and 4 chairs. The only complaint I had on this cruise was with the bed, it was very uncomfortable, after I complained they changed the mattress , which helped but it was still not great. We had assigned seating , first sitting ( a first for us) , nice table mates, great service and the food was just fine, there is an alternate menu that you can choose from each night if you wanted to, plenty of choices and we enjoyed all our meals there. We did not plan to do to the dining room on the formal nights, but since we enjoyed our dinners so much, we did attend the last 2 formal nights, my husband wore a sport coat ( no tie ) and that was fine. The Horizon Court, with the buffet, is the same as it is on most ships, although it is a little congested when you first walk in. We are coffee drinkers and I felt that the coffee in the Horizon court was weak, but the coffee in the dining room and room service was better. Speaking of room service, they were exceptionally fast and efficient, we routinely ordered room service in the morning and in the evening for coffee and cookies. We did eat in each of the specialty restaurants, they were good, but we felt that the specialty restaurants on HAL and RCC were better My husband did the Ultimate Ship Tour and thoroughly enjoyed it, a small group of 9 people and they had a 3 ½ hour tour, very impressive, expensive, but he thought it was well worth it. He was amazed at how clean everything was everywhere he went. We spent more time in the casinos then seeing any of the shows so I cannot comment on those. We did look at the Sanctuary , but chose not to use it. We swam in the indoor pool and relaxed on our balcony or on the pool deck. Ports Cabo San Lucas- tender port- very congested waiting for the tenders, due to other ships in port. We just walked about the marina, very crowded area, we were originally going to take a water taxi to the beach- it was just too crowded in the area. Acapulco, since we had been there before as well, we decided to stay on the ship, very relaxing Huatulco- I had read the comments on CC re the nice beach right at the pier and that is where we went- we paid $ 5.00 and had lounge chairs and a beach umbrella, beach was great we just walked back to the ship. Puntarenas- we do not normally do ship tours, but we decided to do the Pacific aerial tram, the tram tour was not worth the money, there were 8 passengers and a guide, the guide was very good, we did not see great views, nor animals or birds , all we saw were trees. They had a buffet lunch that was okay and then there was also a 40 minute walk to see reptiles- we did not do that. It was very hot, there were a number of cruise ships in port, so it was very crowded, long time standing in lines, shuffling along. Puerto Amador- here we also did a ship tour but this one was worth every penny. We did the Panama Canal by boat tour. They took us by bus to the ferry that would take us through the Pacific side of the locks. The ferry was old but it had plenty of seats, both in the shade and in the sun, they supplied cold drinks the whole time and a very nice buffet. Excellent narrator pointing out lots of interesting information. It was great to experience the locks with a small boat and then the ship the next day. Our cabin was on Caribe deck forward , starboard side, so we had a great view of all the goings on. We did go to the front and the back of the ship to see it from a different angle , but we spent most of the time on our balcony. Seeing the mules in operation and the whole process is really inspiring. Cartagena. We took a taxi into the old city, we shared with another couple and it was $30.00 total. The taxi driver was offering to stay with us and take us on a tour for $60.00, we were not interested but we did see a number of these taxi drivers , with their blue shirts, walking with people in the city. As stated many times on CC, there were lots of people trying to sell you stuff , especially when you first entered the area, but once you said no, they would go on their way, the problem was there was so many of them. Lots of shops in the old city and it was getting quite warm .We had no problem getting a taxi back- this time for $ 10.00 Aruba- again 4 ships in port, when you get of , it is a little bit of a walk to the end of the pier- we were the 4th ship there. On the way back there was a shuttle to take you to the ship. We planned to take a taxi to eagle beach, but we did not see any- again very crowded, lots of stores- so we took the bus ( bus terminal right near the pier) Bus fare was $1.30 pp each way. We saw the sign for Eagle Beach, but we did not see any beach chairs, so we stayed on the bus and got off at the Hyatt. Great little beach, they charged us $10.00 for the use of the umbrella and 2 lounge chairs and 4 towels. The return bus stop was right outside the hotel. Fort Lauderdale, we chose early walk off and were off the ship around 0730, plenty of time to catch our flight home Overall a great cruise and great experience, time for relaxing and enjoying the warm weather and seeing the wonderful Panama Canal. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We left on January 10th and went to St. Thomas, Tortola, Antigua, St. Lucia, and Barbados. We arrived around 3:30 and had no problems getting on board. We bought a 12 pack of water before checking in for $6 which saved some money because ... Read More
We left on January 10th and went to St. Thomas, Tortola, Antigua, St. Lucia, and Barbados. We arrived around 3:30 and had no problems getting on board. We bought a 12 pack of water before checking in for $6 which saved some money because it is a lot more on the ship or in the ports! We had a standard balcony cabin and it was nice and as expected. The bed wasn't that great but I can live with that. I was disappointed that they didn't offer any general aerobics classes. They had yoga and spinning but you had to pay for them. The gym had a good selection of equipment though. Anytime dining was great and we met some fun people this way. The average age of the crowd was older than us (we're in our early 30s), but it didn't bother us and we certainly weren't the only younger people. There weren't a lot of kids, but I did see some toddlers. I thought the food was slightly better on Royal Caribbean, but other people we talked to said that this ship did not have as good food as they have had on other (and usually smaller) Princess ships. It just seemed mass-produced and lacking a lot of flavor. It was often bland. I did however love the pizza and ate a lot of it! I was a little disappointed with the International Cafe, especially as I noticed that they really didn't vary the selections. I got really sick of the breakfast buffet by the end of the week as it was almost always the same items. The ship was nice and offered a lot of amenities. It had a nice balance of activities. We loved the Movies Under the Stars even though we didn't get to enjoy it much until the end of the week. Some of the nights we wanted to watch a movie they were showing concerts on the screen (like Beyonce) and the area was deserted. Two more nights showed football games so that only left 3 nights with actual movies. We loved our itinerary. In St. Thomas we went to Magens Bay (I recommend this). In Tortola we headed to Virgin Gorda to the Baths (I highly recommend this and do it on your own to save a bunch of money, it's easy to do!). In Antigua we took Eli's Eco Tour and this was probably our least favorite day (and unfortunately our most expensive day). In St. Lucia we did Cosol's Island Tour (I highly recommend this). In Barbados we wanted a more low key day so we went to Carlisle Bay and it was a beautiful beach. Disembarkation didn't go very quickly. We were supposed to get off at 9:30 and didn't get called until 10:45. I want to try Princess again because I liked all aspects of it except the food. I'm hoping that on the next ship we do the food will be better otherwise I might go back to Royal Caribbean because the food is important to me! :) Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We boarded the ship in San Juan and had no trouble at all, speedy boarding, and unlike some other reviews I have read about San Juan we never encountered any rude people.. Our first Princess cruise was on the Ruby when it was brand new, ... Read More
We boarded the ship in San Juan and had no trouble at all, speedy boarding, and unlike some other reviews I have read about San Juan we never encountered any rude people.. Our first Princess cruise was on the Ruby when it was brand new, so we were slightly disappointed when we first got on the ship. Nothing wrong with it, just not new. Our room location was excellent, 14th floor mid-ship! Excellent location for access to pool and buffet. We found the dinners in the dining room to be O.K., only had dinner at buffet once and that was also just OK.. I don't usually eat breakfast, but really liked the breakfast buffet. Comedians were very funny!! Hypnotist was very good too.. What was nice about going this time of year was that there weren't that many children.. There was absolutely NO nightlife on this cruise, I don't if everyone was exhausted from having a port almost everyday or there just weren't any people that like to party! I think next time we will try another cruise line just to have something to compare it to.. We had a great time, but it was exactly the same ship.. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
My wife and I left on Saturday February 13th from LA. As we came from the east the time change made for a long day on Saturday. If we were to do this cruise again or any with large time changes we would arrive a day early to adjust some. ... Read More
My wife and I left on Saturday February 13th from LA. As we came from the east the time change made for a long day on Saturday. If we were to do this cruise again or any with large time changes we would arrive a day early to adjust some. We had the transfer from the Airport included with the package. Princess had people waiting for us at baggage claim. We removed the bags from the carousel and Princess took care of loading them on the bus, taking them to port and bringing them to the room. We had a balcony room on level 11, Baja deck near the aft of the ship. This location was great for us as we just went up two levels to the Horizon Court buffet. This was our breakfast spot everyday as well as lunches during sea days. Excellent selection of very tasty food with a few changes for breakfast. Lunch changed allot from day to day with a different theme (mexican, italian, etc.) but always included a great salad bar. We had dinner at several of the restaurants but did not try Sterling Steakhouse or Sabatini's (the 2 pay restaurants). Nice choices for dinner. Food quality and taste were very good except for the steaks which were just okay. I had a strip steak that was a little tough. Good flavor though. Call early for the best reservations if you choose anytime dining like we did. Took earlier travelers advice and requested two lobsters on lobster night, no problem and they were delicious. They had a very interesting golf pro who gave daily presentations and golfed with some of the passengers. Went to see one of the comics and he was pretty good. Went to one show in the theater but left after a few minutes. Not really our thing. But always 2-3 different things going on to suit people of all ages and tastes. We went to two wine tastings. The first was $25/person that included tastings of several very pricey wines. The wines were paired with food (appetizer size) that included caviar, lobster, prosciutto, smoked salmon, shrimp, different cheeses, pate. It was nice but again not really our thing. The second tasting was $9.95 and included a souvenir shot glass. The wines were very good. There was some cheese and crackers to cleanse the pallet between wines. As others have said the ship is very large and you can always get away from the crowd. We also liked the "adult only" pool since we weren't traveling with any. The casino was nice and never too crowded especially on Non Smoking night. The girls working the tables were very friendly and happy to help you learn new games. Overall, the staff of the ship and restaurants were very friendly and helpful. I would highly recommend this cruise, we had a great time! Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
First let me preface this review by giving everyone the following information. We were a couple in our mid-to-late 20's This was our first cruise We booked an inside state-room on the Aloha Level We had Anytime dining (Bad Decision) ... Read More
First let me preface this review by giving everyone the following information. We were a couple in our mid-to-late 20's This was our first cruise We booked an inside state-room on the Aloha Level We had Anytime dining (Bad Decision) Saturday We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale in the afternoon and rented a car at the airport. We then drove to our hotel (Quality Inn) in Hollywood, FL (Booked through Hotwire for just under $50). We went out to dinner at a Brazilian Restaurant in Miami called "Flama". The dinner was ok but a little too pricey in my opinion. Sunday Checked-out of the hotel and went to the beach in Ft. Lauderdale in the morning for an hour or so. Next we took the rental car back to the Airport and took the free car rental shuttle to Port Everglades. The Embarkation process took about an hour of standing in lines. While we knew going into this we would be waiting in line to embark we didn't realize that "Waiting in Line" is a common occurrence in cruises. We were on the ship @ 2-3pm and went straight to our room, met the steward and then proceeded to go to the buffet (where we waited int line again). The buffet food was ok but we found that most of the food on the cruise was rather "Bland". This is probably due to the "older" crowd. I would say the average age of the people on this cruise was in the 70's. After the late lunch we proceeded to our cabin to un-pack and get ready for the Muster Drill. The muster drill went fine and after that we went up to the top deck for the Sail-away only to find that all the rails were full so we just kind of stood in the back as we sailed away. The weather was actually kind of chilly that day in Miami and it was misting rain a little but it was still better than snow and 20 degree temps in our hometown. We went to dinner on Sunday night in the Da Vinci Dining Room at about 6:30 and had to wait for about 1/2 hour IN LINE! Then when we finally made it to the front of the line they just gave us one of those restaurant beepers and told us it would be another 1/2 hour wait!! Seriously! This was probably the biggest negative of the "Anytime" dining. We ate in the dining room 5 out of the 7 nights and I would say that our total "waiting" time was close to 4 hours in those 5 nights. The thing that irked me the most is why don't they hand out the beepers before the lines start forming? It was really frustrating to wait in line only to find out you have to keep waiting! Ok...enough about that. Dinner in the dining room was decent and the presentation was great but again the food was rather "bland" and we were not overly impressed with anything (except the desserts). Monday-Princess Cay's We were on the first Tender to Princess Cays and we really enjoyed out day here. The BBQ lunch was decent and the fresh cut fruit was AMAZING! We really enjoyed the fruit and we especially like the juicy pineapple! We spent all day just laying around on the beach and getting in the water to feed the fish over by one of the docks. The lifeguard on the dock was a very pleasant older gentleman and we really enjoyed talking to him. We then went an listened to the two musicians playing music by one of the bars. They were really great and I wish they would have been on the ship because we would have went and listened to them every-day! We had quite a few "cocktails" that day and we really enjoyed our day on the beach. We then took the last tender back to the ship. For dinner that night we went to the Michelangelo Dining Room this time and it was a lot of the same as the first dining room experience. We waited for another 20 minutes in line and then when we finally got to the front of the line the lady informed us that the dining room was full and that they wouldn't be able to get us a seat for 45-60 minutes! We then went upstairs and waited another 20 minutes at the Da Vinci Dining Room and after mentioning what we went through down at Michelangelo they ended up getting us in pretty quickly. Tuesday-Sea Day One hint to those first-timers...wake up early and go save a chair on the top deck. We ate breakfast and then went up to the deck to layout and to our surprise almost all of the chairs were either taken or had a towel and a book on them with no one around. We finally found a deck attendant and he got us two chairs for us and was very helpful! We spent the rest of the day laying-out and going to a couple other "activities". I should not here that the Entertainment Staff did a wonderful job. We really enjoyed all the activities and the comedians (especially Kevin Hughes). Also a hint for first-timers...get to the theater early! We would always arrive around 1/2 hour early and we never had a problem finding seats. We actually enjoyed the waiting time for the show as it gave us time to look through our digital camera pics from the day and enjoy a "cocktail" or two ;) Wednesday-St. Martin/St. Maarten This was our "Funnest" port as we took an excursion through a company called Aqua Mania called "Rock n' Roll Safari's". There were 5 or 6 other ships in port that day (including the Oasis) so the port load was 15,000+. We were one of the last ships to arrive so needless to say there were not very many taxi's willing to take us all the way to the french side. We ended up taking one of the local transportation van's off of back street. The driver was really friendly and dropped us off near the Pelican Bay Resort and we walked a few blocks to Aqua Mania excursion office. Note: if you are looking for one of the "local Van's" to Simpson/Pelican Bay then look for a sign in their window that says "Mullet Bay" then tell the driver where you would like to be dropped off at. The excursion check-in was not until 1pm so we killed an hour by going to the Buccaneer Beach Bar and having a couple drinks. We then proceeded to the Aqua Mania office and checked-in. Since we booked online they had all our information ready and staff member, Kay, was extremely helpful. Next we met our tour guide, Roy, to go over instructions on how to operate the mini-boats. We had a blast on this excursion and got some good snorkeling in. I highly recommend this excursion and it was only about $100 for the both of us. The staff at Aqua Mania went above and beyond to help us and they even arranged for us to get back to the cruise-ship dock since it would have been difficult for us to find a taxi on our own. After getting back to the Cruise-ship dock we did a little shopping and then boarded the ship. We decided to skip the dining room this night since we had some many difficulties with it previously. We ate at the Pizzeria and the pizza was really good. I also bought a UKP card so I was able to enjoy a lot of great "Virgin" drinks and Milk-shakes the whole trip. I actually tipped the Milk-shake girl at the end of the cruise since she had to make so many shakes for me :) THURSDAY-St. Thomas This was our "Favorite" port. We scheduled an Island Tour with Ron's Tours. We first did a 2 hour Island Tour. Then we did 2 hours at Magen's Bay (where I proposed to my girlfriend) and 2 hours shopping. We did the majority of souvenir shopping here for our friends and family. It was a great day and we especially enjoyed Magen's Bay. We were the only ship in Port that day so it wasn't too crowded. After getting back to the ship we then got ready for the second formal night. This time we decided to wait until about 7:15 pm to head for the dining room and the wait wasn't nearly as long. Overall a great day in St. Thomas and a great night on the ship! FRIDAY-Grand Turk Another beautiful beach and we spent a couple hours laying out and floating around in the ocean. WE then had an average lunch at Margaritaville and spent the rest of the day in Grand Turk laying around by the pool and doing a little more shopping. We then proceeded back to the ship ordered pizza from room service. SATURDAY-Sea Day We learned our lesson from the first sea day and go up early to go claim some good loungers with an unobstructed view of the MUTS screen. Overall a pretty good day at sea and I actually won a game of BINGO! This was our last night at the dining room and again we waited until after 7pm and although we had to wait it wasn't as long as the first night or two. After dinner we went back to the room and packed. WE then went around and tipped the appropriate crew members who we felt went above and beyond to help us out. SUNDAY-Disembarkation Got up early...had a buffet breakfast. Proceeded to our "Color and Number Coded" waiting room and then made it off the ship in pretty good time. But then we had to wait about 20 minutes in the "Taxi" line. We made it to the Airport in plenty of time and before we knew it we were back in 20 degree weather :( OVERALL The cruise was a great experience and while we don't regret going, in hind sight, it would probably been better if we would have just went to an All-inclusive resort. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
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