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Sail Date: October 2011
This was my 7th. cruise and my second on Princess. This is how cruising should be and was better than my cruise in 2010. Mind you, anything was better than last years (see my review Celebrity Infinity October 2010 Panama Canal). The ship ... Read More
This was my 7th. cruise and my second on Princess. This is how cruising should be and was better than my cruise in 2010. Mind you, anything was better than last years (see my review Celebrity Infinity October 2010 Panama Canal). The ship had a refit in May of this year but the internal decor and general layout of the ship is much the same as the Golden Princess (and the rest of the "Grand" class of Princess ships). We sailed from Miami to go around the eastern Caribbean visiting Princess Cays (a private island owned by Princess), US Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Bonaire and Aruba. The weather did not get off to a good start as we caught the end of a tropical storm out of Miami which lasted a couple of days. But the temperature was in the high 20's/low 30's so I can't complain! Embarkation. An absolute doddle! Despite the fact that I didn't have a boarding pass-I refused to input my credit card details to allow me to print it off at home. I was asked for my boarding pass and when they found out that I didn't have one, I was redirected to a secondary queue in which I was given a small form to fill out and told to go onto the main embarkation lines. The whole process was extremely well organised and took less that 20 minutes. I was given my room keycard and boarded the ship. PLEASE NOTE: Princess, like every other cruise line, makes a charge on your onboard account of between $10 and $15 per person, per day-this includes children!. On Princess, this is called a "Hotel Charge". This charge is put on EVERY passengers account-and is distributed amongst the staff as "gratuities". For a family of four, based on a charge of $10 per person/day for a 10 day cruise, this will cost $400 (around £300) on top of your onboard spending. If you don't know about this, it could come as quite a shock. The first thing you must do is go to the Guest Relations desk and ask to be removed from this charge. Princess cannot refuse to do this if a guest asks to be removed. You will then be free to tip as you see fit and not as Princess wants you to. Princess will encourage guests to use a credit card for onboard purchases although all purchases are done via your keycard as cash is not accepted onboard. Your credit card will be charged at the end of the cruise. I refuse to do this and opt to put a cash deposit on my keycard. I can then keep an eye on my account so that I can keep to my own budget. Cabins. My cabin had an oceanview window which was a free upgrade from Princess. It does make a big difference as opposed to an inside cabin which I normally have due to the cost of travelling alone. The cabin felt light and airy and was well fitted out. My steward-John-was extremely helpful and couldn't do enough for me. Guests. These were mostly American (we did sail from Miami) with a small amount of Brits. I didn't hear any other language apart from English from the guests. I would have expected a small amount of Spanish/European accents but this wasn't the case on this cruise. Food. Excellent! I opted for the traditional dining at 8.15 in the Botticelli dining room. I was on a table of 8 but after the first night, a couple of my fellow diners disappeared. One of my table-Paul from Bournemouth-did bump into them later. They said they had met some friends who they didn't know were on the ship and had moved tables. I can't comment on this but it seemed that they were quite aloof and didn't want to know about other people. Two of the guests allocated to my table never even turned up so that left four of us. The other couple was Phil and Dale from Chicago. I was also disappointed that many of the tables in my dining room were empty virtually all the time. On one night, I counted ten tables in my immediate area empty. Yet in the other two dining rooms-Michealangelo and Da Vinci-which were for the "Any Time" dining, were full all the time. Considering that the menus were the same for all the dining rooms, why book a traditional dining table and then not turn up? The exception was the two formal evenings then all of the dining rooms were full. Go figure! The menus in the main restaurants was quite varied and very good but the general choice didn't flick my switch. An exception was the second formal night which featured Beef Wellington-possibly my favourite meal. The Horizon Court and Cafe Caribe buffet didn't disappoint. The breakfast menu didn't change much and was in the American taste with hash browns, corned beef hash etc. but the lunch and evening meal menu changed every day, and the food on offer was of the best quality. However, if you decide to go for a late breakfast-say between 9.30 and 11.00, be prepared to wait a very long time. I had a few beers on one night and didn't get up until 9.30. I went to the Horizon Court buffet and was confronted by queues that snaked right around the self-service buffet and out into the main seating area-which was also completely full. I had to wait until 11.15 to even get a look-in at the buffet. In fact, I was so late that the lunch service had opened! In the Wheelhouse Bar on two occasions, there featured a British "Pub Lunch". These two days were very popular indeed with the queue for a table quite lenghty. The luches included genuine British fish and chips, a ploughmans lunch, steak and kidney pie along with a selection of meals that you would expect in a traditional British pub. There are several speciality restaurants including the Crown Grill (a steak house), Sabatinis (Italian) and a few others. These restaurants have a small cover charge-typically around $15-$25 per head not including alcohol. I would recommend trying one of these as I have done on past cruises. The food is prepared to order on an individual basis by the chefs actually in the restaurant so that you know that it will be cooked to your own taste. Entertainment. I can't comment of any of the shows as I didn't go and see any. I am not a "show" person and I don't like musicals. The rest of the trip included the usual karaoke and a Princess Cruises Talent Contest. This was basically "X Factor" by another name. There was also a couple of comedians, one of which did an "adults only" late night show which, I was told, was very good. All of the bars had some kind of band or pianist which played MOR music and was not intrusive. The bars were well attended with the Explorers bar being the most busy. The Skywalkers nightclub on deck 18 was not well attended. Initially, after say 11 pm, it could be quite busy. But at around 1 am, people started to drift off back to their cabins which left the club very empty. On my last trip with Princess, the nightclub regularly didn't shut until 3 or 4 in the morning. On the first formal night, the Captain started a "Champagne Fountain" on deck 5. I wanted to video this, but space was extremely limited and I estimate that almost a quarter of the guests (around 500 possibly more) were mingling about. This made it very busy indeed and I eventually gave up trying. Princess need to sort things out so as many people as possible can see this. I was very disappointed. Excursions. The excursions provided by Princess are very good, very reasonably priced and can be booked online before you go-and you don't have to pay for them until you get on board. The charges are added to your onboard account. The trips cater for all tastes from general sightseeing right down to certified deep sea diving, swimming with dolphins and even a submarine which dives down to 100 feet! I opted for sightseeing in Princess cays, an eco-hike in the US Virgin Islands, Trafalgar Waterfalls in Dominica, Seven Sisters Waterfalls in Grenada and an Ostrich Farm in Aruba. I didn't go on a trip in Bonaire, opting to do my own thing for the day. NOTE: If you decide to do your own thing and explore the ports without going on an official tour and you miss the ship-tough. The ship will not wait for you. We picked up a couple in Aruba who had missed their own Princess ship two weeks previously and were left to fend for themselves. If this happens to you it's your fault and no recompense will be forthcoming from Princess or anyone else. There are a couple of flies in the ointment. On my excursion to the Trafalgar Waterfalls, the trail to the second of the falls is treacherous! The trail was littered with tree roots and rocks, was extremely steep, very slippery and you have to be very careful indeed. Some of my fellow travellers-senior citizens-had to be assisted by the rest of us. I don't mind helping but Princess should have warned people that the trail was only for the adventurous Not only was the trail difficult, it was at tree-top height. The guard rail was very flimsy and at times the trail was only a couple of feet wide. I dread to think if anyone fell as we couldn't see the forest floor. The trail almost resembled a rock face and even an experienced rambler would have difficulty with walking on it. Not only was this dangerous, several tours turned up just after us which meant that there were up to 80 people going up and down this trail making passing very difficult. On my trip to the Seven Sisters falls in Grenada, we got to the visitors centre (basically a wood hut with a lean-to shed nearby) and the heavens opened. At this point I will concede that I am in the Tropics and in a rain forest so rain is expected. But not like this. This rain was of monsoon proportions and was bouncing off the floor to waist height. I estimate that around two inches of rain fell in about three hours. Our tour guide-Kendrick-went back to one of the buses to put on some waterproof clothing. I spoke to him about the fact that I was not prepared to carry on with the walk in this weather. Six of my fellow guests agreed with me and we stayed behind under the lean-to. Kendrick and I got into an argument in front of around 40 people with him saying I was "another Brit moaning about the weather". I replied with I was not prepared to carry on in monsoon rain getting soaking wet and told him to "p*** off with the rest of the tour". I would like to add that a sign at the entrance to the waterfalls said "enter at your own risk". Kendrick also told us that we would have to cross a river (there was no bridge) and when we got to the falls it could be "a little muddy". I later learnt that "a little muddy" meant ankle deep mud and the river had to be crossed by stepping stones. After a couple of hours, the tour returned with several of the people stripping off down to their undies (male and female) due to the fact that they were completely soaked. I'm glad I didn't go and in my opinion this tour should have been cancelled. I have spoken to my travel agents about these excursions and I have been advised by them to put my concerns in writing to be forwarded to Princess. Disembarkation. Again, extremely well organised. I opted for a trip to the Dolphin Mall shopping centre as I had a few bits to buy for friends and family. We had around three to fours hours in this centre which was very clean and I am reliably informed one of the safest shopping centres in Miami. We were then taken directly to Miami Airport for our flights home. In conclusion-a very good cruise, great food, very clean ship, great staff and very relaxing. The guest ages were very varied and there was not many children on board. I would recommend Princess Cruises to the first-timer and to experienced cruisers. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2011
Norwegian Fjords 7 Nights 28th July 2011 My Mother and I are experienced cruisers and have sailed with Princess, P&O, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Fred Olsen & Cunard. Pre-cruise information by email was good, but I did not ... Read More
Norwegian Fjords 7 Nights 28th July 2011 My Mother and I are experienced cruisers and have sailed with Princess, P&O, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Fred Olsen & Cunard. Pre-cruise information by email was good, but I did not like having to print my own luggage labels. I had to reinforce the paper with sticky back clear film, otherwise they would have pulled off too easily. However I understand you can ask your travel agent to do it for you, but whether they would have gone to this amount of trouble I am not sure. Also Princess do not provide any printed literature about excursions. In contrast, P&O still send a beautifully presented bound folder with all the information about your cruise, excursion information and ready printed luggage labels. We arrived at the Ocean Terminal in good time and after leaving our car with Cruise & Passenger Services we had a speedy check in (we had priority check in). Then it was through security and onto the ship. All our cases arrived within 30mins of arriving in the cabin. Our Cabins Mini Suites on Dolphin deck were excellent in every way, very spacious, pristine condition, large sitting area with three seat sofa and large 5sq Mtr balcony. There was a large walk in wardrobe area and the ensuite had bath with shower. Shelf space was good, but drawer space however was minimal. Our cabin steward arrived to introduce himself and he looked after us very efficiently throughout the whole cruise. After a freshen up it was off to the Horizon Court (Lido Cafe) for a drink and something to eat. The food here was very good indeed, we had our breakfasts and lunches here and our evening meals in the Cafe Caribe which is adjacent to the Horizon Court at the rear of the ship. The service in these areas is first class, with staff anxious to assist you at every turn, very useful for elderly or disabled passengers. Once seated they are constantly at your side to assist with more food or drinks. These waiters are in addition to the staff clearing the tables, who do so efficiently and on a constant basis. A wide range of hot & cold food is available, in the evening sometimes with a particular theme. For us the only thing missing at lunch time was cold meats such as Ham, Beef or Pork, but there was always cheese and a very varied choice of salad items. We never had to queue when eating in these areas. It is also worth mentioning that hand gel was actively insisted upon whenever anybody entered the cafe and was freely available in all areas throughout the ship. Another aspect of hygiene was that milk was dispensed in jugs and jam and butter was in bowls with tongs or spoons which removed the process of multiple fingers diving into bowls for small packs of butter, jam and UHT milk (which we experienced on P&O Oceana the following week - see our separate report of this cruise) We ate only twice in the dining room, so cannot really comment on the standard of service here. The menu's we felt were not to our taste, a little too European and on one of the occasions for us, under cooked and poorly presented. However the evening meals in the Cafe Caribe were very good with plenty of choice and excellent desserts. If you are on anytime dining, there can be long queues if you want to eat in the dining rooms, so it's best to book a table early in the day. The layout of the ship is good, very easy to get around, the elevators are fast and numerous. The Piazza (Atrium) which covers three decks is the central hub with an attractive Coffee Bar which has lovely pastries throughout the day including sandwiches at lunch time (all free with the purchased drinks). We did not book any tours on the short cruise so cannot comment on how efficiently these were organised, but had no trouble getting on or off the ship at the various ports. PORTS OF CALL BERGEN city has some attractive areas in the town, with a large central park area with fountain and bandstand. The main shopping areas have wide pedestrian areas, although on our visit the pavements seemed very dirty and there were a lot of buskers. The attractive port area (with the pretty coloured quay side buildings) was rather spoilt by the covered market stalls and food outlets. The small harbour has some major building work on the quay side at the moment so it's in a mess. GEIRANGER We did not get off the ship here as it was a tender port and mostly for people going on tours who would be meeting up with the ship later in the day at HELLESYLT. The scenic cruising of the fjord here was very pleasant. HELLESYLT Service call only for passengers returning to the ship from overland tours. OLDEN is a small village at one end of the Nordfjord which has a few useful shops. The old church in Olden (the one in the village) was built in 1759 on the site of a stave church dating from around 1300. It's pew doors and jambs are made from timbers of the old stave church. This is well worth a visit and is only a 15 minute walk from the ship. During the Summer a small motor driven train with passenger cars does a shuttle service up and down the main road leading into the village. STAVANGER our final port is of course very large, we were docked very close to the Cathedral which is worth a visit if time permits. At the time of our visit a certain air of sadness prevailed due to the numerous memorials left in memory of all the students who died in the recent shooting tragedy. We did not go to any of the shows or entertainments so cannot comment on these. The usual array of daytime activities were available on board, including shuffle board, quoits, putting & table tennis. Disembarkation was smooth and trouble free. Overall an enjoyable relaxing cruise on a well run ship, with excellent service, accommodation and food. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2011
We live in upstate NY so just an hour to travel to the Red Hook Pier. Embarkation was such an easy process. From the car to our cabin in under 15 minutes! We had a mini suite mid ship. We liked the location and have absolutely no ... Read More
We live in upstate NY so just an hour to travel to the Red Hook Pier. Embarkation was such an easy process. From the car to our cabin in under 15 minutes! We had a mini suite mid ship. We liked the location and have absolutely no complaints about our stateroom. Wish we had better weather to enjoy our balcony but at least we had a couple of beautiful days. We made the decision after always using traditional dining to go with eating in the Caribe Cafe each evening. It was so much easier for us and no time worries or dress ups. The food and variety were great. We did 4 excursions through Princess and enjoyed them all. The whale watching in Bar Harbor was the highlight of our trip. To be so close to giant whales and watch them diving under the water was amazing. The other excursion we both liked was the Upper Deck Trolley in Boston. We had never been to Boston before and felt like we got a great overview of the city. We are not great walkers so this was super for us. The singers and dancers were the best we have seen on 6 Princess Cruises. We found all staff to be polite and friendly. Cruise director was top notch. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2010
This was my first time on a cruise ship. I always wanted to go to Hawaii so I decided to go. I paid for 2 people but I was the only one in my inside cabin because I did not find someone to go with me. My cabin was at the very rear of the ... Read More
This was my first time on a cruise ship. I always wanted to go to Hawaii so I decided to go. I paid for 2 people but I was the only one in my inside cabin because I did not find someone to go with me. My cabin was at the very rear of the ship on deck 12. The motion of the ship at sea was noticeable but not uncomfortable. The weather to and from Hawaii was sunny for the most part. Movies Under The Stars is a great attraction on the ship. On the Golden Princess the movies is on deck 14, midships. Some other ships have it at the very rear. Also on deck 14 was the Horizon Court buffet so that was nice as well. I did not do any specialty dining but I could have. The food in the buffet was good with a good variety depending on the day. That means everyday was not the same food. There were a lot of sea days so if you go, be prepared for that. After the ship left Los Angeles, it takes the rest of that day and 4 more to get to Hilo, Hawaii which is the first stop out of 4 stops. The sport deck is nice, lots of sports to do. The newsletter you get everyday tells you about all the activities so that was helpful. Inside cabin on deck 12 very near the rear of the ship. The safe in the closet is small but very secure. Good water pressure in the cabin. Lots of hot water available. The bed was okay in comfort but the covers where very good. Pillows where fine and comfortable. Lots of lighting in the room should you like that. The TV was up high, wish it could be lowered. Lots of mirrors in the room, did not care for that too much. Room service available all day everyday. And only 1 level from the Horizon Court 24 hour buffet area. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
After all the planning, work outs, shopping, & anticipation, we finally met up by midnight at the LA hotel recommended by Tripadvisor & AAA. We might be 55 year olds but that night we were like college kids as we gathered & ... Read More
After all the planning, work outs, shopping, & anticipation, we finally met up by midnight at the LA hotel recommended by Tripadvisor & AAA. We might be 55 year olds but that night we were like college kids as we gathered & shared our excitement! We woke the day of departure; imagine our shock as we watched FOX News cover the tragedy of the Chilean earthquake. When they brought up the tsunami warning, we knew we were in for possible disappointment. This is when we knew we were right to buy trip insurance. I called Princess immediately & sat on hold until the rep told me that they had calls in to the authorities & would call us if the trip would be affected. We decided to hope for the best & go ahead with our embarkation plans. Our personal shuttle arrived at noon, graciously took us to our wine shop so we could stock up, & off we went to the LA Harbor. The baggage handlers along side the ship were so much fun -- thanks guys for your warm welcome! Our 3 first time cruisers were WOWED by their initial visual of the ship. The embarkation process was perfect, the best of the 3 cruise lines I've been on. In the waiting area, we watched the news as Princess made periodic announcements that the harbor was closed by the Coast Guard due to the tsunami. In my opinion, the waiting passengers handled the delay well. There may not have been enough seating for everyone but this never happened before so why would there be. We may have waited an hour before they made the happy announcement that the gangway had been lowered & embarkation had begun. The Sapphire Princess was the first ship out of the harbor once the Coast Guard made the decision. We 8 ladies went to the covered front of the ship to experience the trip out to open sea. We said a silent prayer for our neighbors in Chile. The remainder of the trip was a wonderfully normal cruise. The high points of the cruise were: 1. mini-suite balcony. We had two mini-suites & two interior cabins. It is worth the extra dollars to have the larger balcony when traveling with a group as we shared the space with our friends. If it were just my hubby & I, the regular balcony would be fine. 2. Princess allows celebratory wine/champagne to be brought on board. We were celebrating a pending retirement, a birthday & a graduation & Princess' understanding allowed us to celebrate together in our suite. This is why I recommend Princess above the other lines I've cruised. 3. The ship's size. Sapphire is the perfect size. Who wants to sail with 3000 passengers? We had no trouble finding deck chairs, outdoor seating for our Horizon Court breakfasts, lounge seats for the jewelry show, etc. I have zero desire to sail on any super sized cruise ships, even if the fare is less on them. 4. Our traditional dining experience. Traditional dining IS the cruise experience. You can go to a restaurant at home (freestyle dining), why would you do the same old thing on a cruise? I prefer the late seating because we have time to return from our excursions, get all gussied up, have a glass of wine & still make it to the table on time. We were blessed with the perfect waiters, Alan and Joel from the Philippines. (Alan is sacrificing time at home because he is putting his daughter through medical school). Every guest should get to know their waiters on a personal level; it so enhances the cruise experience! We know they see a new table of guests every week but the way they treated us made us feel like we were special every night. We tipped them very generously. Hello Alan and Joel! 5. Skywalker Lounge. We had along one daughter for whom this trip was her graduation gift She actually likes to be with us eve though some of us are old enough to be her grandma. We took her to the Skywalker Lounge every night so she could dance the night away &that she did. If some of the crew were up there they made it a point to dance with her a few times & we got out there to dance too.We helped her make wonderful life long memories. 6. Shipboard activities. Our group really enjoyed the dancing,exercising & entertainment opportunities on board the ship. We ended up in the ship's video more than once. The crew were full of energy, they appear everywhere &they work hard to make the days at sea fun. We really appreciated what they were doing for the passengers. If we suggested any improvements, they would be: A. the latte bar needs a selection of sugar free skinny latte choices. B. Revamp the nighttime entertainment. That's where we found fault. We thought the dance company costuming absolutely STUNK. Giant gold lame' stars on a man's shirt/pants? Come ON! Talk about emasculating a person. The costuming was circa 1970. The average age on the ship was 55. Hey, we're the baby boomers. The music too; how many years will we hear covers of 45 year old Neil Diamond songs? Let's get a little more current. They had talent but their creativity had been squashed. We stopped going to the shows because they were so sappy. The Island Princess (2008) had more current content. The ship group, the Babydolls, lead singer was not good either, but the thin singer was great. Loudness will not cover a substandard voice. We felt that the karaoke contests had much better voices so we went there whenever there was a performance. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2009
My husband does not relax like "normal people" and, unless they would agree to let him work in the engine room for the duration, cruising doesn't appeal to him. I absolutely love it, so off I went on my own. Embarkation in ... Read More
My husband does not relax like "normal people" and, unless they would agree to let him work in the engine room for the duration, cruising doesn't appeal to him. I absolutely love it, so off I went on my own. Embarkation in LA was extremely efficient, no more than twenty minutes from curbside to stateroom. My stateroom was clean and comfortable. Odd duck that I am, I seem to be one of the few that has never had a complaint about Princess' mattresses. My only complaint about the ship was an occasional "funky" odor in the hallway and on the Promenade Deck. That and the fact that I did not do my homework well enough to realize that the Video Arcade was directly above my stateroom. Small inconveniences, not enough to obsess about. I opted for traditional dining at a table for ten, knowing that while I was not obligated to eat there every night my chair would be waiting for me without reservations should I choose to. My table-mates were varied and interesting. Overall the food was good, some of it excellent. While the service provided by my particular waiter was not as good as I had experienced in the past, it was by no means poor. The deck stewards and buffet stewards were wonderfully friendly and attentive. I liked the fact that the Sapphire has deck chairs on the Promenade Deck, great for reading or just watching the ocean go by. I took the Ultimate Ship's Tour, offered on our last sea day. Although it was a tad pricey I felt it was worth every penny and would recommend it to anyone who's curiosity radar goes off when they see a "Crew Only" doorway. From what I understand a lottery is done on those who have signed up and only a small group is taken (there were eleven of us). Photos are not allowed, but we were accompanied by a member of the photography staff and the pictures she took, as well as a chef's coat and plush robe were delivered to our staterooms that evening. We toured the backstage areas of the Princess Theater with some of the performers, The Medical Center with the Doctor (who is an absolute hoot!), the Galley with the Executive Chef (who had a lovely snack waiting), The print shop, photo lab and laundry with the Purser, the Engine Control Room with the Chief Engineer, and we climbed up into the funnel with the Staff Captain. Last stop was the Bridge where the Captain posed for individual photos and presented each of us with a souvenir of our voyage. My advice to all cruisers, be it first-timers or seasoned, is that your trip is what you make of it. Treat your servers and stewards with respect and you will get wonderful service. When you have to wait for an elevator, look around, realize where you are and how lucky you are to be there. My cruise was not perfect, but it was wonderful. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2009
As I was unable to enter Fremantle W.A. (AUS) I put Sydney as departure point.I first entertained the idea of a cruise after the breakdown of a 26 year marriage.I needed a break, a new start, should I tour Australia or overseas? but where ... Read More
As I was unable to enter Fremantle W.A. (AUS) I put Sydney as departure point.I first entertained the idea of a cruise after the breakdown of a 26 year marriage.I needed a break, a new start, should I tour Australia or overseas? but where do I start, who do I contact, what price do I pay and will I enjoy it? Fate played a major part in my decision to cruise as the daily newspaper did a double page spread on cruising, the rest they say is history. I contacted all the relevant sites and ended up booking 16 nights to Asia sailing from Fremantle aboard the Sun Princess. I arrived at Fremantle about 11.30 am promising myself not to be too eagar to board and then to sit about for hours.I need not of worried, I was onboard in my cabin (my bags arrived about 1 hour later)taking photos and grazing in the buffet before 2pm,amazing. Not only smooth on boarding but also a cabin upgrade to start my first cruise!! From my first contact with Staff aboard the Sun Princess until I regretfully marched down the gangplank back at Freo 17 days later, I have nothing but praise (more on this later). Sailaway was at about 4.30pm and was amazing and exciting even for a single bloke who at this stage only new his cabin attendants name (Armando). He made me feel relaxed to the point I felt I was a seasoned traveller! Our resident band played each afternoon and after sailaway at each of the ports and ensured relaxing music to listen or dance to. As space limits me I need to restrict my coments but I have nothing but praise from the captain down to the staff who washed my clothes and had them back to my cabin the next day. The drink waiters who new my name,number and drink preference after the second day and only needed a nod of the head or show of a hand to have your next drink delivered. To the maitre d' who spotted after sitting alone one night that maybe I should be on a different table, his choice made my second siting dinners memorable for the friendship that entailed, reliving the days activities,shore excursions and theatre shows with others at the table. The food that the staff of the Sun Princess presented was second to none, from breakfast to the themed lunches e.g. Italian or French, to the Island night buffet on deck, it was stunning. I have eaten at some fine restaurants and the meat especially was as good as it gets, tender,tasty and cooked as I ordered. The daily activities had something for every one, bridge,deck coits,table tennis, bingo where one family on the last day went home over $9,000 richer! to just relaxing with a book from the library, time on the internet touching base with family and friends or a quiet drink at one of the many bars. All good so far but if I had one gripe to put to Princess cruises was that after most shore excursions (which I went on four)the talk on the ship that night is where other passengers went on shore and had a ball, these places were not offered by Princess!! I was told there were nearly 300 children under 18 on board out of 2000 people, you would not know. They were well behaved and they had their own pool and entertained themselves without any annoyance to myself and others. After dinner there was the choice of listening to a piano player, a Jazz ensemble, the casino or a stage show of the highest calibre. Most nights after catching a show I went to the Disco until the early hours of the morning. As this was my first cruise I had hesitations on many fronts, I need not have woried,people were happy to talk, they were on holidays, just like me. Sun Princess exceeded ALL my expectations and have booked a cruise to N.Z.in February '10 aboard the Sun Princess hoping to enjoy my next cruise just as much. Hesitations no more JUST DO IT. Phuket, Decided on Princess shore excursion where the highlight was feeding and riding an elephant. If you haven't been on an elephant before, try the Island safari and buffet lunch,worth the money. The only down side was it left no time to discover Patong beach a drawcard for all vistors and most talked about that night. Langkawi I could live here The climate, the duty free shopping, the beaches, the everthing about Langkawi I liked. Once again the passengers who hired taxis did the same as us and more during their time ashore at minimal cost compared to what I payed. The cable car ride up the mountain provided spectacular views and photo opportunities and is a must. the foot massage at the top wasn't bad either! Port Klang ( Kuala Lumpur) We were advised that K.L. was too far from the port to visit so I chose the home visit to a typical Malay family for morning tea and snacks, I did enjoy this part of my day but found that being dropped off in what they called little India for nearly two hours alone, I felt intimidated and uneasy as a single visitor, thus I didn't venture too far from our bus. I don't think many people bought much here. it appeared it was only to fill in the days trip. Talk on the ship that night was of people hiring taxis and going into KL and doing the real tourist drive. Singapore The best day on shore by miles. Started with a 3/4 hour bus trip to the Singapoe Zoo to have breakfast with the orangatuans and 2-3 hours discovering the many animals and animal shows on offer. just enough time to cover the lot. Back to the ship where I caught a taxi to Raffles hotel for a Singapore sling, something I had wanted to do for nearly 30 years since I was last in Singapore and over $30US poorer (inc the glass as a memento)!!! I then decided to take the cable car to Sentosa Island. this cable car actually goes over the Sun Princess and the photos taken added a different slant on photos of the ship already taken as well as the Super Star Virgo berthed next to it, give me SP anytime!. I erred by not getting off at Sentosa Island as I feared I might run out of time, by all reports I should of got off for a look, once again this was NOT an option put forward by Princess. Geralton Decided to sample the local brews at the Freemasons hotel and our group of 10 or so had to have a Hungry jacks burger as the previous 15 days of fine dining had taken its toll!!. None of the shore excursions appealed to me. Back at the ship not one person I spoke to had gone on a tour. Shopping appeared to be the favourite,spending Aus $ followed by the transferring of more money into the credit card account before the next days ship board account arrived!. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2009
Summary. It was an interesting cruise. I enjoyed visiting the islands, the ship was great. Note: I didn't find the ship rocked any more than one normally would . I`m not a Bert Stratton fan, but he was on board and his shows ... Read More
Summary. It was an interesting cruise. I enjoyed visiting the islands, the ship was great. Note: I didn't find the ship rocked any more than one normally would . I`m not a Bert Stratton fan, but he was on board and his shows seemed well attended. If you are interested in pictures, go to www.fotki.com/ggrrrr . It is the top album, Southern Caribbean. Saturday I flew into San Juan a day early. My connection was out of Philadelphia at 11:45am. the airline changed the plane and ended up having 20 more passengers than seats. They asked for volunteers to catch the 6:45pm flight later in the day. They were giving round trip flights anywhere in Canada, U.S., or Caribbean. It seemed like they had enough, so I boarded. At that point they asked for 1 more volunteer, so I did. Once I had my flight voucher, I asked to go standby on the 1:45pm flight and got on! I arrived only 2 hours later than planned and had a free flight. I stayed at the Radisson Ambassador in the Condado area. I'd booked it through a Priceline bid. It was a nice hotel and room. It had a good restaurant. The staff were very friendly and helpful. Check-in was quick. I walked around the area, its only about a block from the ocean. I'd stay here again. A friend had told me about a micro brewery in Old San Juan called Old Harbor Brewery, so that's where I headed for dinner. Not one of the taxi drivers outside the hotel had heard of the brewery/restaurant. I had the address so I got dropped off close by and found it without problem. They had 5 drafts on tap and you can order a "flight". The beer and food was good. I walked around OSJ for a while, saw an outdoor wedding reception in a park by the water. I was coming back the next day to get pictures, so I headed back to the hotel for the night. Sunday I spent 3 hours walking around OSJ taking in the sights. I visited the Castillo San Cristóbal fort and went to the El Morro fort, but did not go in. I got a lot of great pictures. Old San Juan is very scenic. I headed to the ship around 1:00pm and boarded at 1:30pm. There were no lines at all, lots of staff. There is a liquor store at the Pan Am pier. They have a fair selection of liquor, but only a couple of types of wine. I got to my room and there was someone else's name on the door, so I went to see the purser and found out they had upgraded me to an Obstructed Oceanview - sweet! There wasn't much of an obstruction. I had printed out my boarding pass early as I was travelling with work the week before the cruise. It appears they made the change while I was out of town - no problem. I dropped off my carryon and went aft to see the Adventurer of the Seas, which was docked immediately behind us. I had my ceremonial cruise brew while waving at passengers on the AotS behind us. An hour later, I headed to the old cabin to check for my luggage and there it was! At 3:30pm I met a friend for drinks and at 6:00pm went to dinner in the Palms. I had traditional dining this cruise and it worked out great, due to the table mates, although I do prefer anytime dining. My table mates were travelling together (7 of them) and they were a lot of fun. Sunday dinner: Vegetable Spring Rolls - ok Tortellini and Spinach Soup - very, very good Prime Rib - Delicious Bananas Foster - good, but a small portion, which was probably a good thing! I met Augustin the steward after dinner. Very nice guy. We had the muster drill and then I just wandered around until 10:00 when they started setting up for the sailaway party which started at 10:45pm. The `ship` band was very good. Sailaway was not as well attended, most likely due to the time (we sailed at 11:30pm). Monday The advantage of booking inside cabins is that if you leave your drapes open, you don't get blinded at 8:00am after staying up late! Needed coffee!!!!!!! I headed down to the International Cafe (I had bought the coffee card on my cruise in December) and met a dinner table mate with the same idea. Monday was a sea day and I love sea days! Lots of relaxation! Monday dinner: Fettucine Alfredo as an app - good Won ton Soup - good Pork Roast - good Saw comedian John Joseph in the Explorer lounge. He was very good. I then headed over to watch Princess Popstar. There were 10 contestants, 3 were good, 1 was very good. I then headed up to Skywalkers. Tuesday - Aruba I walked down the pier and got a 2 hour land tour for $15. The tour guide was Glenda and she was very good. There were 17 of us in her bus. I took lots of pictures. Tried the local beer - Balashi and it was good! Aruba was very scenic, but very commercialized in areas. It had Benihana, Wendy`s, Ruth's Chris, Dominoes pizza, Pizza Hut, Tony Romans, even a Hooters! Its a place of contrasts. Tuesday dinner: Fettucine Alfredo as an app - good Caesar Salad - good Fish and Chips - Good Chocolate Chip cookie with vanilla bean ice cream and fudge - very good I tried to get into the Princess Theatre about 15 minutes prior to the show, but it was full with 4 rows standing behind. So, I headed to the Explorers Lounge, met a friend on the way and we play the `Majority Rules` game - it was lots of fun and my partner gave the asst Cruise Director a coughing fit from one of her answers that I made her scratch out (but was still readable) LOL. Wednesday - Bonaire We were only in port from 7:00am-1:00pm. Again I walked down the pier and got a good 2 hour tour with Orlando for $20. After the tour, I hopped in a taxi and went to get pictures of a client's plant I support. I told them I`d mail a picture of me standing by their plant entrance. The people on Bonaire are very friendly and it is a very pretty island. The guide told us there is not much in the way of nightlife, but more than makes up for it with very good snorkeling, scuba diving or just enjoying the sights. They have set up many preservation areas. This would be a good island to return to. Wednesday dinner: Fettucine Alfredo as an app - good (yes again) Caesar Salad - good (yes again) Chicken Cutlet with Fontini cheese Fruit with cheese sabayon Limoncello Thursday - Grenada For Grenada, I had booked the Princess `Spice Island Tour` for $49. This tour stopped at 2 spice factories (1 was very seedy so to speak). Laura's Spice Garden was very good and informative. We had a guided tour around the spice garden and I found this to be worthwhile. I bought some spices to give to some friends, as how much fresher can you get! We then stopped at a rum factory and while I got some good pictures, my advice is not to do this, not very good. Thursday dinner I just had a hamburg as I wasn't very hungry. I found out later that this was the night they had the Twice Baked Goat Cheese SoufflE with Garlic Sabayon. I would have gone just for that! I then watched the March Madness games Friday - Dominica Myself and a friend walked down the pier and found a private cab - Bobby. There ended up being 6 of us taking a tour. Bobby took us to the Emerald Waterfall and to a locales area where there was a hot spring (it was like a little hot tub). We then went to a locals fresh fruit stand where the guy would cut up the fruit we wanted right there and there was no charge, we would just leave what we wanted to leave. We then dropped the other 4 people off, they were ziplining and we headed back to the ship area. Dominica is an interesting island to explore. It is very scenic. Unemployment is the highest in the islands around here (around 18-20%). There were many, many, many taxis waiting at the end of the pier for passengers and while they are not rude, there are a lot of people vying for your attention. I'm very glad to have seen Dominica, but I doubt it will be factor in another cruise. Friday Dinner: Fettucine Alfredo as an app - good (sigh, yes again) Filet Medallions - very good I went to the Captains Circle party and then headed to the Explorers Lounge to the see Michael Harrison, a comedian ventriloquist (he was good). After that it was more March Madness. Saturday - St. Thomas I stayed on board as I've been here. I don't think I`ll book a cruise with 5 islands again, I like my sea days. It was very quiet on board and they let me run with scissors! Saturday dinner: Fettucine Alfredo as an app - good (sue me!) Pepper Pot Soup - good Striploin - very good Dessert was a Baked Alaska that I didn't try as I was full. I was told it was good. Sunday - Disembarkation We had to put our luggage out Saturday night, you have no choice, there is no walk-off. They give you a color code and you attach it to your luggage. They move your luggage to a holding area where you pick it up after you go through customs. My disembarkation time was 9:30am from the Palms. My color got called on time and I was through customs in about 15 minutes, very smooth. You then pick up your luggage and away you go. I easily got a cab and was at the airport around 10:30am for a 2:30pm flight. This airport is a zoo. There were 3 cruise ships coming in Sunday. First you have to stand in line to have your bags scanned by the USDA. Then you get in line for your airline. Then you get in line for security. And of course there is no one directing people to the USDA line, so people just get right in line where ever they want. Stay the extra time and see the sights, or, book a late flight and go later and hopefully the lines will be shorter. Also, once through security and in the waiting area, there is 1 sit down restaurant and 1 fast food place. Seating is at a premium. If I fly out of San Juan again, I`ll stay the extra day. We starting boarding at 2:00pm and I was ¾ down the jetway when the ticket taker came down the line and asked if I was travelling alone and if so, she would upgrade me. So, I went first class from San Juan to Philly! We got into Philly about 6:30pm and my flight was at 8:50pm. So, they came on and told us it was delayed. They said the plane was on it`s way from Greensboro and would land at 9:00pm. At 9:20pm, I wondered if they knew their plane was missing. They then told us it was delayed again and that they were overbooked by 5 and were looking for volunteers. Not this time, I was tired. We ended up on the plane at 11:00pm. An airline employee then came on the plane and said they needed 1 more volunteer or the plane would not take off. Someone volunteered. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
Friday The flight from Canada was uneventful. I checked into the Grand Yacht Club (Hilton). Nice hotel, nice room. You could easily walk to the pier if it wasn't surrounded by a barbed wired topped fence *smile*. I went for a walk ... Read More
Friday The flight from Canada was uneventful. I checked into the Grand Yacht Club (Hilton). Nice hotel, nice room. You could easily walk to the pier if it wasn't surrounded by a barbed wired topped fence *smile*. I went for a walk around the Marina. Wow, some very nice boats. There are some pictures at www.fotki.com/ggrrrr. Saturday Embarkation - Left the hotel at 11:15 (checkout was 11:00). Grabbed a cab with a person I met from my hometown. Embarkation went very quickly. I was on board, in my room, at 12:15. I had made the decision to try the Chef's Table, so I called Dining Reservations. I got right through and my name was put on the list. Lunch - went to the Lido deck, had pizza - yum! Cruise Critic Meet & Greet - the first of two get togethers. We met at the aft pool. Sail-a-way - lots of fun. Ok, it's always fun to get moving on your vacation *lol* Dinner - The App - Melon with Port - so so. The Main - 5 Star Prime Rib - very good, melt in your mouth. Show - The production numbers were good, but there were only 4 and the rest was Princess marketing - mostly boring. Sunday Coffee Card - I bought the coffee card at the International Cafe on deck 5. Entitles you to fresh brewed coffee, speciality coffees, ice capps, etc, Breakfast - I ate with the singles breakfast club outside on the Lido deck. Breakfast was good. Lunch - went for pizza again - still yum Cruise Critic Meet & Greet #2 - in Skywalkers. 12 people showed up. Chef's Table - I was accepted to the Chef's Table. Cost $75. 144 people applied and they accepted 2 tables of 12 each. More later MUTS - Football was being shown Captain's Cocktail Party - They ran 3 of them. Dinner - took a VERY long time for courses to come out. The App - fettucini - good. Soup - Won Ton - ok, The Main - Beef Tenderloin medallions - so so Show - the show was over by the time we got out of dinner Skywalkers - good music, good crowd, left late Monday Jamaica - I booked the Mystic Mountain chair lift and bobsled coaster tour. We went early and got right on the transportation, there was no waiting, The drive is about 15 minutes. The chairlift takes around 15 minutes and gives you some good views. You can see the ship at some points from the chairlift. When we got to the top we were able to get right on the bobsled coaster. I did the bobsled coaster 3 times. It was fun. I'd recommend it. Margaritaville - looked in some shops on the way. Margaritaville was fun Dinner - skipped dinner in the DR and ate in the buffet as I was hungry and didn't want to chance another loooong dinner. The food was fine. Tuesday Grand Cayman - been there, done that. I looked around Georgetown for a while and then went back to the ship and took advantage of the quiet. Chef's Table - We were met at the International Cafe by the Head Maitre d'. We went on a tour of the Galley, while it was working. We were told that the food we would have was not on the menu, ever. The Executive Chef got creative for us. We had 4 apps in the galley along with some Mumm's Champagne. 1) Tuna tartar with wasabi, 2) foie gras terrene on toasted brioche, 3) fontina cheese quiche with white truffle, 4) new potatoes with sour cream and caviar. We then moved to the dining room. We had: Risotto laced with parmesan cheese, red radicchio and langoustine ragout, lemon sorbet with mango slaw and laced with grey goose vodka, roast veal shank and veal tenderloin, market vegetables, chateau potatoes, baked camembert with pine nuts, port wine reduction and walnut bread, passion fruit dream cake, whiskey soaked raspberry soft centre, mango glaze. All the food was served by the Executive Chef and the Head Maitre d'. At the end we received a copy of the Courses book and a picture of the table. I recommend this. Wednesday Cozumel - I signed up for the culinary tour at 9:00 am. It was at the Playa Mia Resort. Transportation took us there and we were met by the head chef, Luis. Really nice guy, young and talented. We made an App, a Main and a Dessert. the App was a grilled tortilla with chorizo sausage, onion, lettuce and cream. The Main was pan fried group wrapped in banana leaf with green pepper, tomato, onion and olive. the Dessert was a layered dessert, home-made cookie, a rice pudding like concoction. They gave us Margarita's, Tequila or Beer (or water), whatever we wanted, and kept them coming. After that we had the run of the resort until 1:00 pm. There was no extra cost for anything after the cooking . This was a lot of fun and I would recommend it. Dinner: App - fettucini again, it was good. Main - Beef Wellington - I don't recommend it. The crust was very soggy and not appetizing. I did have enough food however. New Years Eve Party (ship party) on the Lido Deck. This was fun. The band (Wavelength) was very good and the crowd was into it. Thursday Sea Day - totally relaxed. The day was cloudy - no problem Maitre d' wine tasting. They had some nice wines, including an Opus1 - enjoyed this Princess Idol - from Sunday through Wednesday they held an American Idol style contest, The winner from each night met Thursday night for the final. One of our singles group won. Dinner - App - had the Twice Baked Goat Cheese SoufflE with Garlic Sabayon - very yummy. Main - Steak, very good. Friday Princess Cays - we got to the island, but the swells were too high for the tenders, so we left. We just sailed around. It was nice. I like sea days, Another cloudy day, with some sunny breaks Skywalkers - Lots of fun Saturday Got off the ship at 7:15 am. Was at the airport at 8:00 and had to wait until 11:50. Flights home were uneventful and on time. Eventually found my car covered in a foot of snow in the Park and Fly. Summary Nice ship: I found I was able to navigate the ship more easily as I had been on the Caribbean Princess last April. Chef's Table: very good and recommended All tours: very good Food: Fair to very good. Others had food they really enjoyed when I had the dinners that were fair. So, next time, I'll make different choices Cabin Steward: very good Room: Inside single. It was not large, however it was perfect for my needs People: Met a lot of very nice people, who were a lot of fun to hang around with Overall - it was a good cruise, lots of highlights. A cruise is what you make of it. Yes, the lounge chairs are very close together, I moved them. Yes, the layout of the buffet could be better, it's a small thing that shouldn't become a large issue. So, overall, I enjoyed it and recommend the ship. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
I am a senior, solo cruiser. However, my sister was on the same cruise. We had separate cabins, did our own thing, but met for dinner every evening. We traveled together and stayed in San Juan pre-cruise together. This was my 10th ... Read More
I am a senior, solo cruiser. However, my sister was on the same cruise. We had separate cabins, did our own thing, but met for dinner every evening. We traveled together and stayed in San Juan pre-cruise together. This was my 10th Princess cruise; and 16th overall. We stayed at the Sheraton Old San Juan. We shared a double room that was spacious enough for the two of us to be comfortable. The staff was very helpful and the room amenities were very nice. We arrived on Saturday afternoon and toured OSJ on our own. We had lunch in OSJ and dined at the hotel. The next morning we were picked up by Juan of AAA Island Tours for a trip to El Yunque. I would highly recommend him for a tour. We were dropped off at the pier at 1:00 for boarding. I flew on Jet Blue - Washington, DC-New York-San Juan. The flights down were uneventful. The return flight had a delay at New York due to weather in Florida. I was in a fully obstructed OV cabin - E228. It was situated between two lifeboats so I had a pretty good view from my window. Cabin steward was Bobby. He was always available, friendly and extremely competent. I only had a couple of requests and he took care of them immediately. I frequently adjusted the temperature in the cabin to suit my needs, but not because of any A/C problems on the ship. I asked for and received late seating traditional dining. We were in the Island Dining Room at Table 212, a table for 8. Our waiter was Sveta and our assistant waiter was Ana. Both ladies did an exceptional job. Because it was Thanksgiving, the second formal night was switched from Friday to Thursday and a turkey dinner was added to the menu for the night. I think most of us had the lobster anyway since the turkey dinner was offered again on Saturday night. I also ate breakfast and lunch in the dining room every day. I was always seated with others, as I requested, and always had good service. I went to afternoon tea twice. I also had the pizza, free ice cream, and fresh fruit for afternoon snacks (not all at the same time though). Other than lunch the first day (we missed eating in the dining room by 10 minutes), and the seafood buffet the first night (which was an appetizer portion before dinner) I didn't eat any meals in either the Horizon Court or Cafe Caribe. However, what little I did have there was very good and the selections seems to be varied and plentiful. The Lobby Bar with Aggie quickly became my favorite place for a cocktail. After my first visit, Aggie always greeted me by name. I made a few donations in the casino during the week, but I got lucky the last night and won it all back playing roulette, plus a few extra dollars. I don't smoke, but I did not find the smoking in the casino to be a problem or a hindrance to my time there. I saw three shows: the Welcome Aboard show, Do You Wanna Dance, and Caribbean Caliente. I enjoyed them all. I skipped Piano Man this time since I had seen it last May. I also saw Hypnotist Joshua Seth, comedian Kevin Jordan, and Ventriloquist Michael Ziegfeld. All were very funny and entertaining. I didn't participate in any of the shipboard activities, so I have no comments in that regard. My ship time was spent reading and resting. I exercised by walking around the promenade deck and using the stairs all week. I watched a few musical concerts on MUTS, but not any movies. At the sail away party raffle, I won a coupon for the spa, which I used towards a hot stone massage. That was the most exquisite sensation and I definitely plan to do it again. I didn't get any kind of sales pitch, just a wonderful 75 minute treatment. I took four shore excursions - island information and history tours in Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua and Tortola. The first three were exactly as I expected and I was very pleased. The tour in Tortola, unfortunately, was not what I expected. Instead of the historical tour I signed up for, we got a drive around the island and a tour of the beaches. I mentioned this at the Shore Excursion desk. The staff member took notes and the next day I had a letter in my cabin advising me that the situation was being investigated. I didn't ask for a refund, I just wanted them to know the tour didn't go as advertised. Because I was traveling with my sister, and she uses a walker and sometimes needs wheelchair assistance, embarkation and disembarkation were fast and painless. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2008
10/12/08 Crown Princess Cruise My flight arrived in Ft. Lauderdale 10 minutes early (10:05am instead of 10:15am), much to my delight. Since I was seated in row 7, I was able to get off the plane quickly and reach carousel 4 before ... Read More
10/12/08 Crown Princess Cruise My flight arrived in Ft. Lauderdale 10 minutes early (10:05am instead of 10:15am), much to my delight. Since I was seated in row 7, I was able to get off the plane quickly and reach carousel 4 before our luggage appeared. I waited about 5 minutes for the belt to start moving and luggage to start passing by. It was probably another 5 minutes before my huge, red suitcase showed up. I grabbed it and headed outside to find Go Airport which I had reserved over the internet for my delivery to the port. The driver informed me that even though the port was close to the airport, he would have to deliver all the other people in the van before taking me to the port since non-cruisers were not allowed past the gates. He assured me it would only take about 20 minutes, so I happily agreed. Well, his 20 minutes actually turned out to be an hour and 5 minutes. I got in the van at 11:00am and I was delivered to the port at 12:05pm. Surprisingly, I wasn't the least bit irritated. It had been a long time since I had been in Ft. Lauderdale and I enjoyed seeing all the sights during my hour long 'tour'. I figured the $15 I spent on the van service was cheap for over an hour long tour of the city! As previously mentioned, I arrived at the port at 12:05pm. There was no line and I easily breezed through the few steps of embarkation and stepped on the ship at 12:15pm. Yes, 10 minutes is all it took and I was grinning from ear to ear. My first stop was my cabin. This was my first solo cruise and I couldn't wait to see where 'home' would be for the next 7 days. I was in E702, Empress Deck 8, ocean view cabin. I was thrilled to find a very comfortable cabin with a huge window. The beds were set up as a queen size, with a night stand on either side. There was also a desk and chair which could also be considered a dressing table. The hair dryer was attached to the wall in the corner above the desk. Since I brought my own hair dryer, I never used the one in the cabin but it looked like it might have been o.k. In the corner opposite the desk was the small cabinet that contained the refrigerator. Inside was the ice bucket, two bottles of water (one large, one small), a can of Coke, Diet Coke, and Dr. Pepper. I never touched any of the drinks but did use the ice daily. My cabin steward, Henry, was fabulous and my ice bucket was never empty. The location of my cabin was absolutely perfect for me. It was 3 cabins away from the aft elevators which took me almost every place I wanted to go. The only exception was when I wanted to go to the Princess Theatre or the Casino. Since those trips weren't frequent, I absolutely adored my cabin location. After my inspection of the cabin, and dropping off my very heavy backpack, I took the elevator up to deck 15, Lido, to grab some lunch. Two of the three buffet areas were open and there was absolutely NO wait for obtaining my lunch. I thought the selection of foods was really outstanding at the buffets throughout the week. It was also interesting to see that the selections at the 3 areas were never identical. The two buffets in Horizon Court had very similar items but the Cafe Caribe almost always had a totally different menu. I found myself eating in Cafe Caribe much more than Horizon Court. I found all the food at the buffets to exceed my expectations. I have read reviews where people complained and said the food was not even as good as Applebee's. I did not find this to be the case. The selections were huge and everything I ate was absolutely delicious. Nothing I had would have ever been found in a cafeteria. Over the years, I have eaten at many, many fine restaurants and most of the food on the Lido deck was every bit as good as what I've had in those restaurants. The exception to that statement was the hamburgers from the Trident Grill. They were just so-so and nothing to rave about. I've had much better hamburgers on other ships that I've sailed. Unfortunately, I never made it to the Pizza and Ice Cream Bar to sample the pizza so I can't comment on it. It looked and smelled good, and I had planned out sampling some late at night, after dinner. I just never made it back to the Lido deck to try it. After lunch, I went back to my cabin to decorate my door (yes, I'm one of 'those' people) and check on my luggage. My suitcase had arrived so I unpacked after decorating my door. Since my room was set up as a double, I had twice as many hangers as I needed. I decided to hang everything up, including my shorts, t-shirts and bathing suits. I still had leftover hangers. I put all my toiletries on the 4 shelves provided in the bathroom and stored my empty suitcase in the bottom of the closet next to the cabinet containing the safe. When I cruise with DH, we store the empty suitcases under the bed. However, since it was just me, there was plenty of floor space in the closet for the suitcase. By now, it was time to start thinking about Muster Drill. I grabbed my PFD (Personal Flotation Device), aka Life Preserver, and headed to my Muster Station. This is where I think Princess is superior to other lines, the way they handle Muster Drill. My station was the Crown Grill. Yep, I went down and sat in one of the booths, with my PFD sitting on the table. You listen to a recording telling you all the information you need in case of a real emergency. Then, at the end of the recording, the staff who are spread throughout the restaurant, demonstrate how to put on your PFD. After the demonstration, they ask everyone to stand up and put on theirs. You are then dismissed. It was definitely the easiest Muster Drill I've ever attended. Best of all, there is no sweat involved. After Muster Drill, I ran back up to the Lido deck to meet all the people in my group. It was wonderful to finally meet people I'd been talking to on the boards for the last 6 years or so. We were cruising as a Group and were supposed to all be seated together at dinner. Somehow, Princess had messed up our reservations and only half of the 19 people were seated together. There was not adequate time to fix the problem before early seating (6:00pm) so they arranged for us to have two tables next to each other in the Anytime Dining Room just for that evening. So for our first dinner, we all ate together in the Da Vinci Dining room. I must say, the service we received in the anytime dining room far exceeded our expectations. It was an absolutely delightful experience. I did see a stack of the 'dreaded' pagers so I now know for certain they do have waits for some of the cruisers assigned to anytime dining. I had planned on keeping a journal of the foods I ate so I could mention them in my review. Unfortunately, my laziness prohibited me from doing that. I can only say every meal I had was wonderful. I was not disappointed in anything I ordered the entire week. After dinner, I found myself extremely tired. I'd been up since 3:00am to make my early flight out of Boston. So, instead of going to the Welcome Aboard Show, I headed to my cabin for the evening. I have had nicer bedding on another cruise line, but it was certainly adequate and I must admit, I slept soundly the entire night. Monday - Princess Cay Monday morning, I woke up, dressed in my bathing suit and cover up, and headed to the Lido deck for breakfast. I love the fact that they open the buffet at 6:00am for those of us who are early risers. There was never a problem for me to find a table by the windows in the morning for breakfast. The selection of breakfast foods was huge. I can't imagine anyone wanting anything that wasn't provided. There was a variety of fresh fruits, cold meats, cold cereals, hot cereals, pastries, and hot items such as French toast, scrambled eggs, fried eggs, omelets, stewed apples, bacon, sausage, hash browns, and several other choices that I don't recall. After filling my plate and seating myself by the window, I began eating my wonderful selection of foods. The wait staff showed up almost immediately to ask if I'd like coffee. They go from table to table, filling coffee cups, or providing hot water for tea, as well as pouring ice water for anyone who wants it. If you forgot an item from the buffet, they'll even run and get it for you. The wait staff in the buffet were the best I've seen on any ship. I must remember to write a letter to Princess to compliment them. After breakfast, I waited for the rest of my group to ready themselves for the tender trip to Princess Cays. This was one of the times it came in handy to have a nice selection of books to read. I never sat idle. I simply read my book and sipped more coffee. Let me stop here to say, the coffee on the Crown was not the horrible mess that has been reported on these boards. Yes, I could tell it wasn't 'fresh brewed' but it did not taste bad. I drank a LOT of coffee and found it to be o.k. In fact, I can even say I enjoyed it. Back to my story, when my group was ready, we made our way down to the Explorer Lounge to pick up our 'tender tickets'. Here again, Princess has a very civilized process for tendering. You get a ticket and sit comfortably in the lounge, waiting for your number to be called. When your number is called, everyone stands and follows the 'guide' down to the tenders. You load and leave immediately. I'd say the entire process took less than 15 minutes and it certainly beat waiting in line. When we arrived at Princess Cay, part of our group was loaded on golf carts to ride over to the bungalow they had reserved for the day. Since I had not planned on staying on the Cay all day, I did not include myself in the use of the bungalow. Instead, I walked over to Davey Jones' Locker where I had read the best snorkeling was. I always travel with my own mask, fins & snorkel since I'm more comfortable with my own equipment. I found a table under one of the huge pavilions to leave my water shoes, beach towel and cover up and proceeded to the water with my gear. The beach was beautiful and there were many lounge chairs available for those who wanted them. They had all kinds of water equipment for rent as well. There were also plenty of trees for shade for those who didn't want to spend the entire day in the sun. I only wanted to snorkel so I didn't bother finding a lounge chair. While not exceptional, the snorkeling at Princess Cays is certainly acceptable. I saw many beautiful fish and had a terrific time during my two hours of snorkeling. When I got out of the water, they had begun serving lunch in one of the pavilions. They had hamburgers, hotdogs, bar-b-que chicken and ribs as well as a variety of salads and fresh fruits. The food looked wonderful but I wasn't really hungry yet so I made my way back across the island to the tenders to return to the ship. I understand from my friends in the bungalow, they had servers who brought the food to them from the pavilion so they did not have to leave the bungalow. They also had air conditioning which I know was appreciated. It was HOT on Princess Cay. Back at the ship, I spent the rest of the day in the Terrace Pool. Anytime I was on the ship, and the sun was shining, you could find me either in the Terrace Pool or on one of the loungers around the Terrace Pool. It was much quieter than the other pools since it was 'adults only'. The waitstaff and bartender at the Outrigger bar made sure no children utilized the Terrace Pool. I had planned on spending sea days in the Sanctuary but found the Terrace Pool so pleasant, I never made it to the Sanctuary. After several hours of relaxation at the pool, I made my way back to the cabin to get ready for dinner in the Botticelli Dining Room at our assigned table. Tuesday - Day at Sea As previously mentioned, when the sun is shining, and I'm not eating, I'm at the Terrace Pool. I spent the entire day at the pool. Since I'm an early riser, I was up at 6:00am and went to the Horizon Court for breakfast. The food was wonderful and the service was far superior to any I've had on any other ship at the buffet. By 7:00am, with coffee in hand, I made my way out to the pool, selected a lounger and plopped down for the morning. I alternated time reading, time in the pool and time napping until noon arrived. At that point, I abandoned my lounge chair and headed to the buffet for lunch. Let me stop here to say I witnessed many, many chair hogs. I HATE chair hogs but nothing was being done about them. There were signs up stating that a chair left empty more than 30 minutes would have items removed and placed in lost in found. However, that never happened while I was watching. Even though I could have run to the buffet, grabbed my food and come back to my lounger, I didn't want to associate myself with the chair hogs. So, I gathered all of my items and left. I was immediately accosted by someone asking if I was really leaving my chair. When I assured them I was, they immediately grabbed it. I sat inside in the cool air conditioning to enjoy my lovely lunch. Once finished, I went back outside to the pool area and sat in a chair in the shade for the remainder of the afternoon. Let me pause here and say during the early afternoon, the Captain announced that due to a hurricane, we would NOT be sailing to St. Thomas and St. Maarten. There were quite a few complainers around me but, since I sail for the ship and not the ports, I didn't care one bit about the change. We were heading directly to Grand Turk and then we would go to Ocho Rios and Grand Cayman. While I hate Jamaica, I really didn't care about this change since I planned on staying on the ship and pretending it was another Sea Day. Around 4:00pm, I went back to the cabin for a shower and to dress for dinner. Around 5:00pm, I made my way down to the casino to make my obligatory contribution. I love the slot machines. I don't consider myself a gambler since any money I win just goes back in to the machine so I can play longer. To me, it's just a charge for entertainment. I love watching all the people around me while I'm playing. From the looks of those around me, I'm pretty sure I was the only one who didn't care if the machine gave me extra credits or not. Everyone else seemed anxious to win! After finally losing my daily allocation, I wondered the ship until it was time for early dinner. Rather than try to remember what I ate each night, I'll just say I had a nice variety of either steak, seafood or lamb each night of the cruise. Every item I ordered was absolutely delicious. The soups, appetizers and salads were also wonderful. I was not disappointed in any of the meals I received in the dining room. Tuesday was our first Formal Night and everyone I saw was appropriately dressed for dinner. There were about an equal number of tux as suits. All the ladies were very nicely dressed. After dinner, I headed back to my cabin to read my book until I fell asleep. Traveling with DH was really nice. He always wants to go to ALL of the shows which usually bore me. Then, whenever we were in the cabin, he wants to watch TV. Since I really hate TV, the one in my cabin was only turned on if I wanted to check the weather or watch one of the informational presentations by the cruise staff. Wednesday - Grand Turk Since I knew how devastated Grand Turk was from a previous hurricane, I really was anxious to visit this island. I had booked a ship's excursion for this day only. After a wonderful breakfast on the Lido deck, I got ready to leave the ship and join the excursion. I did the combined snorkel, swim the stingrays. It was a very short walk from our ship to the snorkel boat which was brand new. Almost all of the boats at Grand Turk were demolished during the hurricane so all the ones for the various excursions were brand new. I didn't actually count the people but I believe there were about 30 of us. The boat ride to the stingray location took us about 15 minutes. The guide pointed out many items of interest and gave us quite a bit of history of the island during our ride over. We could easily see lots of devastation which had not yet been repaired. One of the guides told us she still did not have electricity where she lived. I really felt badly for these people. The visit with the stingrays was exactly like what I had done on previous excursions but still fun. They did have a person videoing the entire excursion and since I wanted to help the economy in Grand Turk, I purchased one. It's supposed to come in about 3 weeks so I hope they got me on film when I kissed the stingray while holding it. After everyone had a change to hold one of the stingrays, and had a number of them swimming around our ankles, we all loaded back on the boat for the short trip to the reef where we would snorkel. I have to say, the snorkeling at Grand Turk was my least favorite of the three places I snorkeled on this cruise. It wasn't bad, it was just crowded. Having 30 people swimming over a reef gets really uncomfortable, especially when there were a number of people who were NOT great swimmers. I got rather tired of being kicked in the face or run over by people not watching where they were going. However, all in all, the excursion was fun and I did see a lot of beautiful fish. After 25 minutes of snorkeling, we were herded back to the boat for the ride back to the pier. At the pier, I decided to investigate the shops and the pool area. I am happy to report that over half of the stores are operational and the pool area shows no affects remaining from the hurricane. (I'm pretty sure it was Ike who devastated them but not positive) I made a few more purchases since I wanted to help their economy. The prices ranged from ridiculously over priced to quite reasonable. My suggestion is, don't purchase an item at the first store you enter. I found identical items at 3 different stores with 3 different prices. I purchased my items at the store that had a price about half of what the first store charged. I wanted to help the economy but I also wanted a bargain. Around 1:00pm, I returned to the ship and went directly to the Lido deck for lunch. Since I'd been in the sun all morning, I returned to my cabin after lunch for a shower and a nap. I didn't leave the cabin until it was time for dinner. After dinner, I went to the one and only show I attended during the week. It was an Illusionist who was absolutely outstanding. I have to refer to my Patters for his name. I do remember he was an Aussie and he selected one of our group to go on stage for one of his illusions. She was seated next to me and wasn't too thrilled about going up on stage. She has promised from now on, she'll employ my tactic of looking down at her lap and not acknowledging his presence in the aisle, trying to get her attention. After the show, I retired to my cabin for reading and sleep. Thursday - Ocho Rios O.K., here is my opinion and, to repeat, my opinion only. I hate Jamaica. It is a beautiful island but the people there are far too pushy and drugs to readily available. We did receive warnings in our Patters as well as over the ship's intercom system that Princess had a zero tolerance for drugs and that if you left the ship, you may be approached by persons trying to sell them to you. Anyone leaving the ship 'may' be subject to a strip search. Well, that just supported my feeling that Jamaica was not the place for me so I did not get off the ship. The sun was shining so I spent the day by the pool and enjoyed the peace and quiet. I know a large number of people did get off the ship to shop and sightsee but I really can't comment on any of that because I was on the ship. I heard that the people who went on ship's excursions were somewhat shielded from the islanders pushing drugs or hair braiding and they seemed to be happy with their day. Since this was our second formal night, I left the pool after lunch time to spend the afternoon in my cabin reading, napping and dressing for dinner. Friday - Grand Cayman Once again, this is a tender island so refer to Monday's description of the tender procedures. It was a very smooth process and there was almost no wait to tender to the island. Three of us had already decided we would not do a ship's excursion here but would find our own place to snorkel. For this day, we truly lucked out. We had read on the boards about Cheeseburger Reef which was behind Burger King and was only a short distance from the pier. We began our walk trying to find Burger King. After about a half of a mile walk, we still didn't see Burger King so we stopped in a store to ask directions. Well, that was the smartest thing we did the whole trip. The store was called Cayman Auto Rental but the rented many things besides cars; one of which was snorkel gear. When we asked about Cheeseburger Reef, they really didn't recognize that name but said Burger King was about another half mile down the road. However, they said if we just wanted to snorkel, we were welcome to snorkel behind their store. We agreed and had the time of our lives. They had a very nice wooden walkway from their parking lot down to the beach. Once there, we had about six feet before we were in the water. The reef behind the store was pristine and the fish were phenomenal. This was, by far, the best snorkeling we had during the entire cruise. There was only the 3 of us and the reef was huge. We spent two hours of pure joy snorkeling. The people in the store were so gracious, they even allowed us to store all our bags under one of the tables in the store so we didn't have to worry about our possessions being left on the beach. This truly was the highlight of the cruise. What a wonderful time we had in Grand Cayman. After snorkeling, we reclaimed our bags from the store and thanked the lady for her hospitality. We thought about shopping but were rather tired from our long swim and time in the sun, so we went back to the ship. We heard from lots of people who had been to the beach and/or shopping and everyone commented on how much they enjoyed Grand Cayman. It was truly a delightful stop. Our group had reserved dinner at the Crown Grill for Friday night and had been looking forward to it all week. Unfortunately, this was our only disappointment for the cruise. While the food certainly was good, none of us felt it was any better than what we had received in the dining room. It was tasty, but not exceptional. We had read about how outstanding they food would be but that was not our experience. In fact, those of us who ordered steak, thought it wasn't as good as the prime rib we were served in the dining room. We were all glad we had the experience of dining in the Crown Grill but we agreed we wouldn't waste the $25 per person again. It just did not stand out enough for our tastes. Saturday - Sea Day I really don't have much to report on Saturday since I did exactly what I had done on Tuesday's sea day. I will say, the Terrace pool was considerably more crowded on Saturday than it had been on Tuesday. I believe a lot of people had not found my little oasis by Tuesday but had by Saturday. Even though it was crowded, I still had a delightful time and got plenty of sun. After lunch, I took a little time to visit the ship's library and drop off a couple of paperback books that I had read and didn't feel like dragging back home. I hope future cruisers will enjoy them as much as I did. Saturday was a sad day since everyone was packing and preparing for debarkation the next morning. I noted at our final dinner in the traditional dining room, over half of the tables were empty. I know the food on the Lido deck was outstanding but I still wouldn't want to miss being served on our final night. The dining room was decorated very festively in red/white/blue with balloons on each table and the waitstaff in red/white/blue vests and bow ties. Even though it was a sad time, the dining room looked great!! I slipped extra tip money to our waiter and assistant waiter since they had done such an outstanding job during the week. After dinner, I went back to my cabin to finish packing and organize my paperwork for the trip home. I also took down my door decorations and completed my customs form for the next day. Sunday - Time to leave Since I had an early flight and was doing self debarkation, I got up at 6:00am so I could enjoy my final breakfast at the Horizon Court. After breakfast, I returned to my cabin and found my room steward, Henry, so I could give him an extra tip as well. He took outstanding care of me and deserved the extra money he received. I made a final check of my cabin to be sure I wasn't leaving anything behind and made my way down to the Da Vinci dining room to wait for the announcement that the ship had cleared immigration and self debarkation could begin. I believe the announcement came about 7:30am (if I remember correctly) and I was off the ship before 8:00am. After leaving the terminal I walked down to the area where the taxis were. One of the workers grabbed a taxi for me, put my luggage in the trunk and sent me on my way. By 8:15am, I was being delivered to the airport. I easily checked in for my 10:30am flight and sat at my gate, reading a book until we boarded the plane. It was a very easy flight, non-stop, back to Boston, where we landed at 2:00pm. My DH and two dogs were there to pick me up as soon as I retrieved my luggage. My first solo cruise was officially finished. A few random notes that don't really fit anywhere else. The Explorer Lounge has the best drinks. Order one of their frozen margaritas. They are all delicious and are huge. They are the best value on the ship. Honest. At the other bars, always ask for a large when you order drinks. The large are considerably bigger and only cost an extra dollar. They are a good value. Several people in our group bought the soda cards and found them to also be an excellent value. I don't drink much soda so I can't give you a first hand experience. However, I saw them being served many, many times out by the pool and also in the dining room. After the first night in the dining room, they never had to show their sticker or ask for soda again. The waiters brought them automatically every night. I had planned on purchasing a coffee card but after trying the coffee the first day, I realized what was served on the Lido deck was perfectly acceptable. I know many people complain about the coffee but I couldn't find any fault with it. Many people in our group went to the Purser's desk to ask for the free Princess cards they give out. I never play cards so I didn't bother. However, I saw theirs and they are really worth the trip down to the Purser's desk. Next Princess cruise, I'll be going down to ask for mine. The shopping on board was not outstanding. I've found a much better selection on other ships. Of course, the stores stayed packed with people buying what they had. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything to spend my money on. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2008
I am a female in my early 50s who often travels solo and this time was no different. I was in Ft Myers area for a wedding and decided it would be a good time to take my 12th cruise. I got a great single rate, about 150% instead of the ... Read More
I am a female in my early 50s who often travels solo and this time was no different. I was in Ft Myers area for a wedding and decided it would be a good time to take my 12th cruise. I got a great single rate, about 150% instead of the normal 200% that's normally paid to cruise alone. I've cruised with NCL Majesty, Norway, Sun, Sky 3X and (same ship) Pride of Aloha. With Carnival, I've cruised Destiny, Fantasy, Inspiration and prior to this cruise I was with Princess on the Golden. Most of my cruises have been to the Caribbean, tho I've also cruised full transit Panama Canal and Hawaii. That's my history, here's my review: I drove to the Ft Lauderdale airport via rental car from Ft Myers Beach, an easy 2 hour drive along Alligator Alley (I love my Garmin!). Turned in the National rental car and took their free shuttle to the pier. I timed this since I'd read how easy Princess' embarkation process is. The shuttle left the airport at 1:25 and I was in my cabin (!) by 2:10. The fastest embarkation I've ever had. Cabin - I was in P206, Plaza deck (deck 5) in an outside cabin. The cabin was about the same size as the outside cabin I had my last cruise (Jan 2008) on what was then, the Pride of Aloha - now the NCL Sky. A rather small cabin but fine for one or two people. Plenty of closet space, so you could hang everything. Not that much in drawer/shelf space, but, like I said you could hang everything. There was plenty of room for shoes, hats, etc. in the closet. A fridge in the cabin is great. My window was large - I can't imagine being without one. My cabin steward, Bong, from the Philippines was very efficient and unobtrusive. He brought me anything I wanted - feather pillows, a top sheet and a robe were very nice. He kept my ice bucket full and the cabin very clean. If he was in the hall working nearby, he walked me to my cabin and opened the door for me. He was always pleasant - you can't expect more than that! I went to the mandatory lifeboat drill, which with Princess is also handled quite nicely. Instead of lining up outside in the hot sun, wearing a life vest, Princess holds their drill in various rooms on the ship. Mine was in Gatsby's Casino. With that out of the way, I began exploring the ship. As others have noted, the layout is somewhat difficult and I'm terrible knowing up from down, port from starboard, forward from aft. There were very good maps at each stairwell indicating which way was forward and you could figure out the port and starboard from there. I'm embarrassed to say I got lost going to the Botticelli dining room on, I think, the fifth night. I didn't feel too badly, though since the people I ate dinner with got lost on the fourth night. :) A hint - to get there go to the Piazza on Deck 6, walk aft as far as Club Fusion and take the stairs down. I don't think there's any other way to get there. I'm not terribly observant either, and someone has since posted that there's a difference in the border on the carpet to indicate port and starboard...I never noticed this, but it will be a great help, if true, on my next cruise. Other than my difficulty keeping straight which way was which, I thought the ship was very pretty. It was different in that the hallways were not all just long, straight lines. The area leading into the Piazza from my cabin had an art gallery you could walk thru for a change of scenery. By early evening, the first night, I still had not received my large suitcase. I'd luckily packed one day's clothing in my carry-on, so I was ok. I mentioned to Bong that I hadn't received my case so he went in search of it. I don't know exactly when it got there, but when I started to leave to explore some more, the case was outside my door. I unpacked and noticed my suitcase was badly ripped. So bad, I'm not certain how all my things got to my cabin. At the suggestion of another passenger, the next day, I went to the customer service desk and told them nicely about my suitcase and asked if they could help me fix it enough that I wouldn't lose all my belongings when I disembarked. A very nice gentleman there told me to bring the case to them and they would have their upholsterer try to fix it free of charge! I did that and the case was returned in perfect condition two days later. I was very happy with the Purser's desk to say the least. I think it was on Tuesday (sea day) that I very suddenly got a cold...Really, one minute I was fine, the next I had a sore throat and everything that goes along with a cold. For that reason, I probably didn't do as much as I'd normally do during a cruise. Since I didn't keep a journal this time, I can't give a day by day description of what I did do, but here is a general overview of things I did at various times/days during the cruise: MUTS (Movies Under the Stars - Deck 16) - I watched Sex and the City. Didn't like the movie all that much, the TV version is much better written, but lying in a recliner on the deck of the ship (they hand out blankets in case you're chilled) was wonderful! I am NOT a big movie fan, but I can't imagine a better way to watch one. I'm not a popcorn or candy either, but I did see them getting those things ready. I assume there's an extra charge to partake in the goodies. International Cafe (Deck 5) - went there most days for my lunch. They have the same foods every day pretty much, but I fell in love with the shrimp salad. Basically a plate of shrimp with oil & garlic. I was trying not to gain too much weight this cruise and other than the oil, this was a really good lunch idea. It helped that my cabin was just down the hall, so I'd just walk there, get my plate of shrimp & take it back to the cabin for later. This dish was available from noon til about 5 pm. Crooners Martini Bar (Deck 7) - a Grey Goose martini on the ship is $8 (including tip), so I found this a great place to go every night before (& sometimes after) dinner. I normally sat at the bar, so got to talk quite a bit to the bartenders, Paul & Adi. Paul left the ship at the end of our cruise for a trip home and 3 months off. Both guys were great, got to know what I liked and I had fun talking to them. Princess Theatre (Decks 6 & 7) - I often am not motivated to go to the production shows when on a cruise, so I did not go to see any. I did attend the magician's show. The act was very good if you like that kind of thing. Really impossible to tell how he did his magic, that's for sure. Gatsby's Casino (Deck 6)- slots were VERY tight. I would normally spend a couple of hundred dollars and be there at some point every evening. This cruise, I think I might have spent a total of two hours in there. Decided I could put my $$ to better use. I did see one guy win $500 on the $1 slots and a woman win $400 on one of the penny slots, but other than that, nada. Explorer Lounge (Deck 7) - briefly watched the comedian (don't know his name) and he was pretty funny. That was the extent of my time there. Botticelli Dining Room (Deck 6) - Since I was travelling alone, I'd chosen traditional dining. In retrospect, this was a mistake. I assumed that I'd be seated with a large group and probably bond with at least one couple or at least have another group of people to say hi to. However, the first night, I was seated and waited and waited but NO ONE else arrived to my 8 person dining table - how embarrassing! It would have been nice for the maitre'd to see this and get me seated at one of the less than full tables, but no, I ate dinner by myself. When I was almost finished, a couple in their mid-60's ran in and apologized profusely. They'd gotten locked out of their cabin and had to wait for a technician to come let them in. They were very nice people and I enjoyed their company, but thru the week, none of the other people seated at our table showed up. Since I'd met other people on the ship, I really wish I'd left my options open to dine with others in the Anytime dining rooms or even in the Traditional dining room, when invited. I didn't feel like I could abandon my 2 tablemates to do this. If there'd been 6 or 8 people there, I would not have had a problem accepting invites to eat with others - I'd just let my normal tablemates know I wouldn't be joining them that night. Oh well, lesson learned. We did have 2 female waiters, one from the Ukraine and one from Poland. They were very sweet and attentive. I didn't think the food was really anything to rave about, but certainly good enough. Outrigger Bar and pool area (Deck 15) - good place to go for quiet relaxation in the sun. It's the adults only pool. It could get very crowded around the pool, but I was always able to at least find a seat up by the bar. I love the sun, so did at least a couple of hours every day lying on the pool deck, watching the pool games, etc. ...are you still with me? I know this is a long-winded view, but if you're like me, you want to know as much as possible before you go. If not, I won't be insulted if you don't read it all :) Princess Cays - took the tender to shore, found a recliner in the sun and relaxed, swam, went to the bar for drinks and music, had lunch. The normal stuff for a private island. All the drinks can be charged to your ship card, so you only need $$ for the vendors who have little huts along the beach if you decide to buy anything. Lunch is free and is basically grilled burgers, hot dogs & chicken with side dishes. Water is available at various places, so you don't have to buy it unless your prefer the bottled variety. St Maarten - booked the tour with Bernardstours. Bernard met me and a group of Crown cruisers at the pier @ 10:30. For $35 (+ tip) he took us on a tour of the island for about an hour and a half (?) in an air conditioned van with a cooler of soda, water, beer & rum punch. Next we went to Orient Beach for 2 hours. I chose to go to the Orient Club side (to the right of where the van was parked). If you're not familiar, that is the nude beach. I didn't do the nude thing, but there's good people watching there unless you're totally turned off by naked people...then you probably would want to go to the beach area to the left of the van parking. I prefer the nude side - fewer people and a great place to relax. Next, we had the choice to shop in the downtown for an hour or so and get a ride back or just shop til you're ready to go back and get your own ride - or just walk back to the ship - it's really not that tough if you don't mind the heat (I don't). However, I was very tired after the beers and beach, so I chose to go back to the ship (around 3:30). I highly recommend Bernard - for the price, it's a great time. St Thomas - my Princess tour was cancelled. I was scheduled for the full day catamaran sail and snorkel @ $129 pp. They didn't notify us until the evening before it was scheduled, making it difficult to figure out a different one to go on. I decided I'd been to St Thomas several times before and it's safe to just take one of the open air buses where you want to go. I thought I'd go shopping in downtown Charlotte Amalie and prepared accordingly. Once off the ship, I turned around, went back to my cabin and got my beach gear ready. I'd never actually been to Magen's Bay Beach so I decided to go there. Taxi ride was $9 pp (+tip) one-way. Entrance to the beach is $4 pp. This is the best way to get there IMO. I was able to get there by 10, a full hour to an hour and a half before the ship's tour people got there. I was also able to stay much longer...they left at 1, I chose to leave at 1:30, but could have stayed longer if I wanted to. If you go there, be prepared, drinks are pricey - I think I paid $8 for a painkiller (including tip), but you're pretty much a captive audience. The painkiller was good, I have to admit. Grand Turk - Almost everyone else went to Margaritaville, but I had no interest. My cold was really with me by then, so I just walked the beach, swam for a little while, shopped in the pier store and walked back to the ship. I was only out about 2 hours. Ok, so it sounds like I really did do a lot, but here are the things I missed and will probably do when I go again (yes, I'm booked again for the Crown on 1/25/09!): Will do Anytime dining and see how that works out. At least if I'm seated alone, it won't (hopefully) be at a table for 8. Check out Skywalkers. The nightclub could be fun, we'll see. Adagio Bar looked like a nice place for drinks with great views. Not sure how much you'd see at night and I don't think it opened too much before dark, but still a nice looking bar. Drag myself to at least one production show. I'm sure I wouldn't hate it, it's just not tops on my list of things to do. See the full show of the comedian(s). Check out Club Fusion...don't really know anything about that one, but passed it on the way to dinner every night. Check out the Wheelhouse Bar - I didn't get in there at all, so I should at least visit. Use the sauna and steam room. I'm not sure why I didn't get there. What would have been better for a cold than a nice, hot steam room? Next time to St Thomas, I plan to get to Sapphire Beach (& maybe Coki, too). In past visits, I've been to St John for snorkeling at Trunk Bay, done an island tour, shopped at Havensight, shopped downtown, so I'm now going to try to get to as many beaches as possible. St Maarten, I'm always happy to shop & go to Orient Beach...I'm sure there are other worthy beaches, I just like Orient, so why change? Obviously, since I'm booked again, I really enjoyed this cruise. I'm pretty easy to get along with, so maybe that's why I enjoyed myself so much. But I did feel I received some exceptional treatment from various employees of the Crown Princess and with only a few small glitches, it was a perfect cruise. Read Less
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