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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
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: 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
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2009
Background: I'm a 27 year old male who celebrated a birthday onboard who sailed with my mother who is in her upper 50's. This was my seventh Princess cruise and her fifth (she's now Platinum). Other lines we've both ... Read More
Background: I'm a 27 year old male who celebrated a birthday onboard who sailed with my mother who is in her upper 50's. This was my seventh Princess cruise and her fifth (she's now Platinum). Other lines we've both sailed together on include NCL and Carnival. Other lines I've sailed on alone are Celebrity and Royal Caribbean. With this said, some comparisons will be made between brands - particularly NCL - during this review. Now there are positives and sometimes negatives to any vacation - keep this in mind when reading the review. Overall the Crown Princess was just an ok experience. It didn't stand out and it's sad to see Princess become an average cruise line. Pre-Cruise Stay: Since Fort Lauderdale was having an art show going on, a lot of the hotels in the port area were extremely booked up so we stayed at the Days Inn Airport / Cruiseport on Broward Blvd by the highway. While the rooms are being renovated one room at a time while the hotel remains open and we were put into a renovated room, the hotel itself has a dated exterior and is in the middle of no where! The neighborhood it's in is very seedy with a set of projects just a block away (and a police station the next block after that down towards Las Olas Blvd). While you could walk about a mile to shops and dining at the Las Olas Blvd mall area, it isn't advisable. I wouldn't stay at this hotel again but if you are out for a bargain then you might want to give this place a shot (the price was too tempting not too given what other hotels were charging)! Embarkation: Went very smoothly. Being a platinum member I never stopped moving when I arrived. I got there just before noon and moved from giving the porters to the bag to a short line where I was identified for my status and whisked to another area and right on through security. At that time they started boarding and checking in! Within 15 minutes of arrival I was on the ship and in my cabin! Nice job Princess!! Cabin: We were in the very forward part of Caribe Deck in C101. The cabin was spacious as the other Grand class ships we've sailed on with Princess. The balcony is bigger on this deck and I thank Princess for the upgrade to this deck since we booked this cruise past the 90 day final payment period and were on as a guarantee. The cabin was clean upon arrival and our room steward Sushet was fantastic. Whenever we had a request, which was very rare outside of normal stateroom servicing, he took care of it right away. The cabin's balcony door was a different story though. It seems as though the exterior frame had suffered some damage. It was covered with duck tape to hold it in place. It was worth a chuckle but on the first sea day when the ship was moving along briskly and overnight, the door wouldn't stop whistling as much as you had it locked the whistling still returned. Finally had to call the Purser's office and had to wake up the maintenance guy at 2AM to come and figure out how the heck to make the thing stop whistling! A piece of plywood later rigged to hold the slider firmly shut and tada - no more noise! We used the piece of wood for the rest of the cruise after we were done on the balcony each night. Odd since the ship was in drydock two weeks prior I thought they might have tended to this problem. Either way it got fixed and off to dream land we went. As for the cabin bathrooms, I guess I got spoiled by NCL's shower system as Princess has a fixed shower nozzle that comes out of the wall at about 6 feet. It points downward and you can't get the shower head to move up at all. Consequently being 6 foot 4 inches tall this was a real pain in the butt to get my hair washed! The shower space isn't that big to contort yourself in such a manner as to getting your hair wet. With respect to this I think Princess could learn a little something from NCL's bathroom design which has a nozzle attached to a hose that you can remove to get all areas of your body cleaned. Public Rooms: In the dry dock two weeks prior the ship received new interior carpeting. Some of the carpeting was shedding but the new carpeting was quite refreshing since the passenger decks can get quite musty with all the sewage problems that occur from sailing to sailing. I'll take the fresh shedding carpet over the nasty sewage smell any day. Some of the chairs were re-upholstered as well in some areas. The ship looked fresh and as good as new. She didn't really show any wear or tear throughout. Some areas of rust on the Promenade Deck were being tended to by the deck crew and were largely scraped and repainted by the end of our sailing. All in all the ship was in fine working order. Entertainment: Due to the time of the year and the football championships Movies Under the Stars had two night's wasted with endless games being shown. This has become a real hidden treasure and a great alternative to the other ship entertainment such as endless comedians! Only one good movie was shown at night this trip which was Mamma Mia and the popularity of it was astonishing as people were dragging chairs from everywhere to watch it. I love that experience. Production shows were great. A show on Cole Porter was WAY before my generation and it was just before my moms. While this show wasn't enjoyable for me because I had no clue who the guy was, the set and costumes and overall work of the production staff was great. The Motown show was ok. It would have been better if one of the male vocalists could have kept his notes a little better. This was the only time any of the production staff seemed off in their performance. Destination Anywhere, the first major production, was the best of them all. This is not to be missed. Overall, nice work by the production team in the main theater entertainment. Daytime entertainment was the same as always with trivia to be had, pool games on sea days and gatherings for various groups ranging from alcoholics anonymous and red hat society to LGBT gatherings. Something new Princess is venturing into that NCL has been doing for quite some time is the Nintendo Wii. While I was the only person who showed up to play it, some new games I had never had before (Wii Fit) were fun and helped pass the day away (as opposed to lounging on deck). The Cruise Staff were very nice and very friendly. Big stand outs on the cruise staff were Elaine (such a darling), Kirstie and David. If you get to know these three people - even if sailing solo - you'll have a fantastic time! David got my mom up dancing and she had a blast. Other evening activities were also available. Every show lounge had some performance and dancing available. Quadri a quintet onboard was quite good. They had a special classical performance in the Explorer's Lounge during the middle of the cruise. Endless comedians were paraded around with the best one leaving the ship that week who participated in the variety show. The other comedians we skipped. We did take in the magician's show which was quite good. Now for the discos, DJ Tommy Boy who spun in Club Fusion was at least trying to play a fair mix of music. He had the music onboard that I like but couldn't really play it because the age / demographics were more towards the disco and Motown eras. Motown could be heard playing almost everywhere during the cruise from the Princess Theater to the pool deck. I like Motown but not that much! Rotate the music Princess! Skywalker's disco with DJ Artik was ok. He also had to play to the demographics which on this cruise skewed younger with a lot of 18-25 year olds. The music large centered on hip hop and R&B. Redundancy did pop up since it was the same Top 40 played every night pretty much. Skywalker's on this ship is much better designed than on previous Grand class ships (Star, Golden and Grand). Spa & Fitness Services: If you wanted to be pampered there were options for you! The Sanctuary was a very warm and inviting place and you could use it to escape from the hustle and bustle of the ship but it also seemed to be a bit over priced in some respects. I guess that is to limit the passengers who wish to use it to what it can accommodate. The fitness areas are comparable to other Grand class ships. A large workout area consisting largely of cardio equipment with a few resistance machines in the mix. I didn't really go to sea to workout and when I wanted to do cardio the Promenade Deck was a much better alternative and probably less likely to spread norovirus. Enrichment: Princess's Scholarship@Sea program was in full gear. From dance lessons, ceramic painting, photography lessons and teaching magic tricks, you had plenty of options to choose from if enrichment is your thing. Service: Let me start with all the positives because there are so many. The crew, staff and even Captain are what make a cruise enjoyable and there was barely a let down by anyone. I do have to send out special heartfelt thanks to Elaine on the Cruise Staff for hosting various events during the day that kept me very well entertained including Wii Hoola Hoop and the Friends of Dorothy gathering. She made sure I wasn't bored! Other cruise staff that I felt went above and beyond were Kirstie (from Australia) and David (from Canada - whose mom is on Cruise Critic too)! Stateroom service was excellent and provided by Sushet in the forward Starboard side of the Caribe Deck. We ate in the Michelangelo dining room each night of the cruise from start to finish. The hostess greeter, who later became the sanitizer lady, was extraordinary! She made sure we got a table of our choosing - usually a two seater and on my b-day celebration night she got me a window seat to boot. The dining room's maitre d' was also very nice. At the Purser's Desk the people were so very kind given all the stuff passengers throw at them! One lady from the Ukraine was so very nice and gave me a Princess Patter (second copy) each night when they were hot off the presses (at 8:30PM). She also helped to fix a problem on the folio that was minor and it was quick to fix. Some service issues were had at the shore excursion desk. This area seemed disorganized and we wouldn't have had to utilize their services had the Grand Turk tour we booked online not been cancelled or if we were given advanced warning of its cancellation so we could have rebooked something else online. The people there couldn't figure out how exactly to bill two folios in the same cabin as opposed to billing two tickets to one folio. This took more time than it really should have and I think the folks in this department could use a wee bit more training on the computer system. The only other gripe I had was with the International Cafe attendant. I had asked on Cruise Critic if it was possible to get a tea (chai) latte from this cafe. Several folks said it was possible. After trying several times the first two days I gave up because the server always had an excuse for standing there. First it was the machine caught fire from the previous cruise and it was out of order, then it was working but could only make regular caffeinated coffee lattes, then it was broken again and it wouldn't be fixed until after 3PM (at 11AM) and then he finally told me that they don't make chai lattes or any non-coffee beverages there unless I wanted to purchase small boxed teas for $1. This was very disappointing and he could have told me that at the start when I told him what I wanted the first time. He seemed very cocky and I wasn't impressed with his service at all. Dining: I left this for last because out of the entire cruise this was the most disappointing part of it all. The food was always good to order and cooked the way I liked when it came to steaks and various other meat dishes. The problem was in the selection. The food selection in the main dining room at dinner has been shuffled up something fierce with nothing exceptional standing out any more. Beef Wellington and lobster tails were served on the same night as they had been. The night of the Chef's dinner though none of the entrees were appealing and it was hard to find something to order. Some menu items to my astonishment were actually the SAME as what NCL serves! Escargot is long gone from the Princess menu and so isn't larger sections of meats such as the Filet Mignon. If you want any sizeable beef dish you have to go to the Crown Grill, their specialty restaurant. Before one night used to have Filet Mignon on it in the main dining room. Since Carnival took over several food changes have been made and while I could understand this being for cost cutting measures, why should I pay more to sail on Princess when they offer the SAME dishes (spring roll appetizers and strip steak are two immediately that come to mind) as NCL? The cold soups left something to be desired as well. NCL does a much better job. The buffet areas are typical for breakfast with the same selection you would find anywhere. The omelet station was never busy either which meant two minutes later you were on your way with the item you ordered. After the Norovirus outbreak spread more around the ship and sanitization stations were setup, the buffet moved a lot slower with the crew serving passengers. I didn't mind the wait but others were rudely impatient to the crew and it was completely unnecessary. Lunch time options in the buffet were ok. Nothing to scream at but poolside burgers and pizza seemed so much more popular. On days when the ship was at sea the line to get a burger or pizza was quite lengthy but it was well worth the wait for both. Princess has the best pizza at sea that I've tasted. Shore Excursions (Booked Through Princess): St. Maarten Ecoworld Tour. Who knew that St. Maarten had a zoo? I didn't and it was an ok visit to the zoo which allows you to get much closer to wildlife than you can in the United States. Our tour guide was informative and in-depth on her explanations of the origins of the animals (none are actually indigenous species to the island). The zoo gets its financial support largely from cruise ship tourists and I would recommend this tour as it also drives you all over the island with two scenic stops after going to the zoo. St. Thomas Walking Tour - OUTSTANDING - NOT TO BE MISSED! The owner of the company did a fantastic job giving us the legends and lore of St. Thomas and the surrounding islands. She's a history buff and she knew the islands in and out enough to give a great tour and she had a great personality even though she's been in the business for so long. She was so very enthused about her subject matter and it came out in her presentation. This tour was well worth the money! Grand Turk - The reason for why we booked this cruise with Princess was to experience this island. Unfortunately the only tour being offered on land at this time is the Hurricane Ike experience that doesn't require you to do swimming, snorkeling or diving. For $19 you get taken all over the island and shown what damage happened to the island, which was quite extensive. Some residents four months later don't have power and the island still needs construction done. Tarps are on roofs everywhere. The tour does stop at the Scenic Lighthouse for about 20 minutes. The tour is very cheap and it is worth it unless you like to just lay on the beach which this island is so small that there isn't much to see there anyway and it could really just be another private island beach day with more upscale shops available than on Princess Cays. Disembarkation: Again, another smooth flowing process from Princess. Since we booked a post-cruise excursion to Everglades National Park, we were the first ones off the ship after the people who walked-off with their luggage and thereby the warehouse was empty of people killing each other to get their luggage. It was very nice and by 9AM we were on our way to the National Park after arriving in the dining room for debarkation at 8AM. Very smoothly done again Princess! Overall: Did I think I got the value for my money - not really! I had spent about $300 more for this Princess cruise per person than I would have if I sailed with NCL. With the exception of daytime activities being more abundant on Princess than NCL, there really is no difference between the two brands with respect to food selection and service given. It's sad to see Princess go downhill so badly after the lecherous Carnival Corp sucked the good out of there. For a first time cruiser you'll have a blast on this ship as it does offer many options but you can find a similar product elsewhere for a cheaper price. Princess was the first cruise mom and I took and at the time both of us agreed it was the cruise line "where we belonged" and now it's become the cruise line we're going to "escape completely" from and go with Norwegian Cruise Line. As for the Noro-virus outbreak onboard from our sailing, this is the first time since I started cruising where it's been bad enough to have a nightly reminder about being sanitary. This particular sailing was full of people new to Princess. A stroll down the Caribe deck on the port side or starboard looking at the stateroom tags, you could tell just how many new people either to cruising or to Princess there were aboard. With this said, I think Princess could do a far better job preventing an outbreak onboard by practicing the same sanitization techniques that are implemented ALL the time on NCL. After the outbreak there were people stationed to force you to use sanitizer at the buffet. On NCL this is standard practice irregardless of an outbreak. When coming back from onshore, only after the outbreak did a hand sanitizer station get setup and were you made to use it before embarking the ship. This practice is standard procedure on NCL. I think Princess needs to re-evaluate its methods to contain an outbreak before it even begins but passengers could do more too such as washing their hands after the bathroom!! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2009
I just returned from a 10 day cruise on the Emerald Princess that sailed on 2-8-2009. I was very disappointed with this ship compared to the other Princess ships I have sailed on. To start with it took almost an hour and fifty minutes to ... Read More
I just returned from a 10 day cruise on the Emerald Princess that sailed on 2-8-2009. I was very disappointed with this ship compared to the other Princess ships I have sailed on. To start with it took almost an hour and fifty minutes to get onto the ship. The said it was because it was an older terminal and had only one gangway to the ship. My room was an inside cabin on the Caribe deck and it was very nice. The stateroom attendant was excellent and did a great job. We left Ft Lauderdale and encountered some rough seas for the next 2 days. Gale force 9 winds and 10 ft seas. We arrived at Antigua and could not get into the port due to the high winds and seas. We spent day 3 sailing around a group of islands to avoid the weather. We were able to get into all of the other ports and they were all very nice. The front desk staff was less than helpful when I needed to contact them and one staff member was just rude. The choices in the dining rooms for the first three days was very bad and I ate in the Caribe Cafe for dinner and that was good. The food in the dining rooms and buffet was just OK not what I expected from Princess. It did improve after day 3. I had dinner at the steak house one night and it was outstanding. The entertainment was good and Fernandez a hypnotist was the highlight of the trip. The on board shopping was disappointing. There was not a great selection of watches and the ones they did have were priced on the high side for duty free shopping. One evening during dinner the Captain made an announcement that there had been an outbreak of the Norwalk virus on the ship and they were putting strict rules in place to slow the spread of the virus. All things considered I will have to think twice before booking another Princess cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2009
I've cruised before and always expected that as my salary increased my class in cruising would too. So I chose the so called luxury cruise line Caribbean Princess. Big mistake. I found the bathroom in the cabin to be extremely tight. ... Read More
I've cruised before and always expected that as my salary increased my class in cruising would too. So I chose the so called luxury cruise line Caribbean Princess. Big mistake. I found the bathroom in the cabin to be extremely tight. The wait staff in The waiters in the buffet areas had an attitude. I found myself leaving my food and getting some warm ice tea from the limited drink bar. At times I asked for a drink and was given a look like "get it yourself". Down at the pool I expected the drink staff to be friendly and bouncing around to the beat of the music enticing me to buy drinks but all I encountered were these young people who looked like they needed a vacation. They didn't smile and came up to me asking "do want a drink?" never once explaining the drink of the day. Sometimes their trays were empty and you didn't know what they were offering. In my room I had the cabin steward change my pillows. I began to itch a few days in a noticed the pillowcase was dirty with brown spots. Umm! If anyone knows who the cruise director was please let me know. Oh was he the one doing the recaps on the tv. They also need to fire the pastry chef. There was nothing delicious and sweet about the desserts. If you feel they were good you don't get out much. The buffet was full of leftovers from the night before and unseasoned food. The entertainment was okay but could be improved. I spoke to one of the entertainers and he said the cruise line likes to keep the noise level to a certain level because past cruisers have complained. Well you know what they should have stayed home. Save your hard earned money and invest$$$ in a royal caribbean cruise. 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: July 2009
My time on the Sea Princess.....My Mother, Uncle, Sister and Daughter and I all cruised on the Sea Princess on July 3rd for ten days out of San Francisco to Alaska. Mother and Uncle shared a room on a different deck since we booked late. ... Read More
My time on the Sea Princess.....My Mother, Uncle, Sister and Daughter and I all cruised on the Sea Princess on July 3rd for ten days out of San Francisco to Alaska. Mother and Uncle shared a room on a different deck since we booked late. It worked out fine. And the three of us (me, sister and daughter) all shared a room.Our first stop was Ketchikan.....which was fun to see. My daughter's first time in Alaska. All the rest of us had cruised to Alaska before. The weather was HOT! Very nice. We just walked around the town and saw the sights.Our next stop was Haines.......hmmmmmmm......not much to Haines.....BUT...my daughter loved it because it was such a quaint little town....dirt roads and such. One bank...one store....one clinic....oh well.......we did see where they were constructing a totem pole.....that was very interesting. Juneau the next day......always fun....Mendanhal Glacier was as beautiful and breathtaking as ever. No bears this time....Fun Fun day. We left that port at midnight. Tracy Arm................amazing!!!!!!!!!! We missed it the last time because of weather....got some great pictures this time....As far as on board.........the service we had in the begining was so slooooooooooooooooow.....But we had anytime dining so believe it or not.....we kept trying other waitstaff and it got better, The food was good. Must say the pizza place was tops! My daughter loved it.Room service was great! The room guys were on top of it and our favorite hangout was Crooner's. Larry played piano and has the funniest sense of humor. We all had a great time listening to him. All the Crooner's staff were exceptional. Keyzia, Erwin, Yuri, Bernie, Benji....all of them!And thanks to Marvin and Steve for hanging out by the pool for us when it was so cool and giving us our sodas when we needed them. The entertainer AdamAnt was hysterical..........the other acts were........ok......the princess dancers are always good and fun to watch. Larry in his Vista Lounge show was great!The disco........well.......Julie the assistant cruise staff was such a sweetheart. Didn't really see much of the others. They just were not that into the passangers. Not like the usual cruises. Julie was the only one that really put forth an effort to have fun with us! Kudos to her!I rated out cruise on this ship......6 out of 10. I have had better.............................But it is always fun to meet new people and make friends.Sea Princess is going into dry dock soon............I didn't think she was that bad. Always fun cruisen with Princess. 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: 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: 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
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: January 2011
I honestly do not know what some of the negativity was about reported on this website. I had a wonderful time!! As for the ship looking old, well I guess my eyes didn't catch what others saw. It looked great to me, though in ... Read More
I honestly do not know what some of the negativity was about reported on this website. I had a wonderful time!! As for the ship looking old, well I guess my eyes didn't catch what others saw. It looked great to me, though in April for three weeks the Grand will go through a $65 million facelift. One thing I wished I didn't do, though no big deal, was purchase the all you can drink pop deal. I'm not a pop drinker. As a solo, it wasn't worth it, but if you were with others, then one can buy it and use their card to get their travelling companion a pop. Who'd know? Both the embarkation and disembarkation (I was sad to leave) was a breeze! Cabin: I received an upgrade. I was on Lido deck 14, inside cabin. I loved my home away from home. My cabin steward was great. Food: I'm not a fussy eater so anything I ate I loved. The Horizon Court was fabulous when I went for breakfast and dinner. I had late dining sitting in Botticelli. My tablemates were fantastic. Two couples from Chicago, and one couple from Manitoba. I enjoyed their company! Our waiters were pleasant and always knew what we wanted. Service: Service was outstanding everywhere. I never had a problem. Listen, most of these staff such as the waiters/waitress, bar people, cabin steward, work long hours. 12 hrs. a day for approximately 8 to 10 months contract work. Give them a break. How they can keep smiling and be so pleasant is beyond me especially when some passengers can be so miserable! Entertainment: Was Ok. It's like most ships so I'm not overly thrilled. It's mostly the same type of entertainment, musicals and stuff (not to take away the talents of the people). The comedian Kevin Hughes was funny. There was also a hypnotists, ventriloquist. At the promenade bar there was a piano player/ Couple of bands played in different lounges at night. You can watch Movie under the stars every night. The lounge chairs have blankets. Tried to watch "Social Network". The music parts got way too loud. Popcorn is made where they make the ice cream during the day. The bar is open. They need to turn the volume down for the movie as scenes got too loud, I couldn't stand it. Best entertainment for me was the sunsets every night. Ports of Call: All the stops were great, except for one. 1. Aruba: The local buses are located across the street from the ship terminal. The bus called "Hotel Area" goes to Eagle Beach for $2.30 return (try to have as exact change or small bills). Beach is just before Palm Beach (nice beach but has loads of high rise hotels on beach). No hotels on Eagle Beach, just two low-rise hotels across the road, which looked nice. After lunch on the ship, I headed into Oranjestad, the capital. Nice colourful place to explore and shop (shopping is not my bag), I looked for historic stuff, went into a museum at Ft. Zoutman for some history of Aruba then headed to The Paddox, sat outside, drank a beer enjoyed the harbour view, saw my ship. 2. Curacao. My first visit here and certainly not my last. I just enjoyed the colourful capital Willemstad. There were some historic buildings such as a Synagogue to see. I loved the floating market. Vendors come from areas like Venezuela. Later, I enjoyed a frozen margarita at Iguana Cafe while relaxing with the view of the other side of Willemstad across the water with the colourful buildings. 3. Grenada. For $4.00 return, it was a 15-minute water tax ride to Grand Anse. I spent about two hours enjoying the white sand and crystal clear water. I had a five-minute rain shower the same time the sun shone. I was treated to a spectacular rainbow. There are some places you can have a drink. There are washrooms but you'll have to pay such as Grand Anse craft & spice market down the beach. There are restaurants will let you use the washroom as long as you buy something. After lunch I headed into St. George, the capital. It was Sunday so not a lot was open. Inside the terminal shops were open. No Internet for me was open to use a computer. That's OK. That's the way Sunday should be. I headed to Ft. George. For $2.00 I headed up the steep climb for a gorgeous view of the habour. I walked along the Carneage. There is a restaurant at the end where I had a local beer and enjoyed the view of the water and the colourful houses on a hill before I called it a day and headed back to the ship. 4. St. Vincent. I took the ships tour included a visit to Ft. Charlotte built 1806. A beautiful view of St. Vincent. After we went on a garden tour and saw a variety of plant life such as garlic tree, Hawaiian tree (our tour guide quipped that Tarzan and Jane swing on the vines at night), Cannonball tree (where flowers that grow only live 24 hrs.), rubber tree (gum, pencil erasers, latex and (our tour guide quipped) condoms are made from). We also saw the national red flower called Exora (can also be yellow). After the tour I planned on touring the capital Kingstown. The town was kind of chaotic, and I think there was a demonstration of some sort going. I actually didn't feel well so I passed and relaxed on my ship. 5. St. Kitts. It was a spur of the moment decision to book a tour outside the terminal with Pereira Tours, a local company. For $20. it wasn't bad. Visit the Italian consulate. Beautiful residency with Palm Court Gardens. Passed by an 18th century sugar mill. Also saw some low-income housing that looked quite nice and colourful. Went to Romney Gardens and Caribelle Batik. After the tour I headed to Ballahoo Restaurant by the Clock tower for strawberry daiquiri. I sat upstairs overlooking the Circus (where the Victoria Clock is). 6. St. Thomas. I've been before on tours around the island and outer islands. Very nice. I decided to concentrate on Carlotte Amalie and no, not for shopping like some. I loved visiting historic sites such as Hotel 1829, Ft. Christian (unfortunately closed for hopefully some renovations, depends on money), Frederick Lutheran Church, and the St. Thomas Synagogue. I walked around enjoying the morning. Stopped in Enid A. Baa Public Library (I work in a public library). Used their Internet for $1.00 for half an hour. Before heading to the ship, stopped in at Blackbeard Ale for a Heineken and watched the harbour action. 7. Santo Domingo. Now this is the port that could be replaced. And it will be next year with St. Lucia. I took a Princess tour of the Colonial zone. It was interesting but I would have liked to explore myself. The highlight was the 45-minute free time. I headed to a cafe across the cathedral. I had the local Presidente beer and people watched. It's not the safest place to go, especially for a solo. I heard some unpleasant stories ( there are two sides to every story). But I didn't feel that safe in 1984 on a tour and today was the same deal. 8. Princess Cays. The private island Princess has in the Bahamas. Unfortunately the white sandy beach held a lot of empty chairs since it was only 20 C (68F) and cloudy. People went out but maybe a handful sat on beach chairs. I saw a lone snorkeler. I had no complaints of the weather knowing the next day I'd have to face my dreaded yucky cold winter! At least I still got to wear shorts even though I needed a top with long sleeves over my T-shirt. The entire cruise was excellent. Would I cruise on Grand Princess again? Yes. But there are so many ships out there; I'd like to try other cruise ships. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
I will keep it short and sweet.First and foremost, I could not find the dining room the whole time I was aboard the ship. They have the funniest way of where to put the dining rooms. I had to figure on extra time just to make sure I ... Read More
I will keep it short and sweet.First and foremost, I could not find the dining room the whole time I was aboard the ship. They have the funniest way of where to put the dining rooms. I had to figure on extra time just to make sure I could get to the dining room.As a previous poster said, I had "Anytime Dining." That meant that you could go to the dining room "any time" between 5:30 and 9:30 or something. The first night was fine but then when it came for the first formal dinner, they asked if I had a reservation. Why should I need a reservation when I had "anytime dining?" Then, because I traveled by myself, I asked for a table for one. They didn't have one and sent me to here and yon to another dining room. Then they decided that I would eat there at 6:00 and at a specific table. Not a good start.I also agree that the dining staff left something to be desired. Because the first night I ordered a bottle of wine and they said they would keep it for the next night. So when I got to a table on the formal night, it took a long time to get my bottle of wine. I was so upset with the way I was treated I ate at the buffet dinner the next two nights. The food was marginal, at best. The food was way much better when I used to cruise 15 years ago.The tours I went on were to the beaches. I went to Cayman and Cozumel. I found a gem of a place on the beach "accidentally" I'm sure from the taxi guy. I asked to go to the Carlos & Charlies on the beach and he dropped me off at another beach club. It was great as there was no one there and it was nice and relaxing.Due to my experience, I am not going on Princess again. There has to be a cruise line with everything.Both embarkation and de-embarkation was a breeze. For a fee, Princess obtained my boarding passes for my flights and shipped my suitcase to the airport without me having to deal with it. Money well spent. 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
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: 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
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2011
Ok, it wasn't quite perfect. Close but no cigar. From my viewpoint, the food was great. I had one bad meal (Duck-very tough) and that was it. All the desserts were great, the meals were very good to excellent. There was usually a ... Read More
Ok, it wasn't quite perfect. Close but no cigar. From my viewpoint, the food was great. I had one bad meal (Duck-very tough) and that was it. All the desserts were great, the meals were very good to excellent. There was usually a bit of a wait for 5:30 seating in the Non traditional dining room, but it went fast. A smile and a thank you went a long way with the Maitre D. He was a bit harassed. The ship was great too. Lots of places to go and relax or not. That's what I love about cruising, the choices are yours to make. Not sure I got my money's worth with the soda package, but it was fine. I didn't get the coffee package because I drink one cup of coffee in the morning and I'm not a gourmet about it. I most often got coffee from room service and had it on my balcony. The bed wasn't horrible, but it wasn't great. A bit hard for me, but not that bad. The Trident Grill was nothing to write home about nor was the Pizza parlor. The ports were fine, although I have no comparison, since this is my first trip to Hawaii. I loved the way they organized the departures for the excursions. It was really well done and absolutely no waiting on a dock to find out where you were going. You waited in the Princess Theater until your group was called, went to the disembarkation deck and got right on the bus or van. It was truly great. They do need more seating in the Princess Theater. I only got to see one show because there was no seating. The 10:30 was too late for me because I get up at 6 am, without an alarm clock. I'm not sure what I missed, but everyone said the shows were great. My only issue was my flight home. When I left, I was flying out on US Air 6344, but when I got to the airport, they said there was no such flight. Finally, I got on a 10:10 flight that took me to Philadelphia. Not my first choice, but at that point I didn't have any choice. I'd have liked to know about the change before I left the ship. I spent money trying to check-in on line. It was frustrating. Can I blame Princess for that snafu? I don't think so, but they should have let me know about the change. US Air's people were great. They helped me all the way along. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
This was my sixth cruise and my third cruise with the Princess line. My flight arrived in Fort Lauderdale on the day before embarkation and I spent the night at the Fairfield Inn & Suites near the airport. Although the hotel is ... Read More
This was my sixth cruise and my third cruise with the Princess line. My flight arrived in Fort Lauderdale on the day before embarkation and I spent the night at the Fairfield Inn & Suites near the airport. Although the hotel is close to the airport, there was little noise from aircraft. The Fairfield offered shuttles to Port Everglades for $8.00 which I used. The Island Princess suffered an outbreak of the Norovirus on the previous cruise and embarkation was delayed until 1:00 p.m. while the ship was disinfected. This was only a thirty minute delay from the original schedule. I arrived at the terminal at 1:10 p.m.. Quite a few passengers were already there and a long line formed. Still, I was in my cabin at 2:25 p.m. and this included checking my luggage at the curb, check-in, security check and getting to my cabin. My luggage arrived shortly before the Emergency Stations drill at 3:45 p.m. My inside cabin B724 was located aft and was clean and in good condition. There was little noise from other passengers in this area and it was three cabins away from a partially covered balcony at the stern. The TV was a 26-inch ViewSonic flat screen. Two 115V outlets were available at the cabin's desk. The cabin door seemed to be a bit warped at the top and required a little more force than usual to close it. It wasn't a problem for me but some might find it annoying. The Island Princess seemed less crowded than the Crown Princess and Emerald Princess that I sailed on previously. The public spaces featured a decor of light wood with brass colored metal and were all in good repair. Norovirus precautions were in effect during the first days of the cruise and passengers could not serve themselves at the buffet and even the bread in the dining room was handed out with tongs. Despite the added workload, the crew members I encountered were friendly and seemed in good spirits. Food in the Provence (traditional) dining room was very good. The twice-baked goat cheese souffle was my favorite appetizer and chocoholics shouldn't miss the Love Boat Dream dessert. Service was excellent and food was always served at the appropriate temperature. The always available fettuccine alfredo was delicious, but needed more sauce. The Horizon Court buffet was busy on the mornings of port calls, but I was always able to find a seat. There were themes such as Oktoberfest and American BBQ for lunch or dinner on some days. In addition, a British pub lunch was offered on three days in the Bayou Cafe. Production shows consisted of "Piano Man", "Motor City", the high energy "Do You Wanna Dance" and "On the Bayou" which featured a New Orleans voodoo theme and was held in the Universe Lounge. The schedule was: "Piano Man": Thursday 3/29 at 8:15 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.; Friday 3/30 at 9:30 p.m. "On the Bayou": Saturday 3/31 at 8:00 p.m.; Sunday 4/1 at 6:45 p.m. & 8:30 p.m. "Motor City": Wednesday 4/4 at 8:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m. "Do You Wanna Dance": Thursday 4/5 at 8:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m. Other entertainment included The Comedy Magic of Lorenzo Clark, the hypnotist Asad, comedian Billy Vader (one night only) and the music and comedy of Duncan Tuck. Piano player and singer Tom Franek attracted a following in the Crooner's lounge and did two shows in the Princess Theater as well as one in the Universe Lounge. Author L.C. Hayden presented a series of entertaining and informative lectures on writing techniques and publishing for aspiring writers. Excellent port lectures were provided by former Canal Zone resident William Fall who also did the on-board commentary as we passed through the Gatun locks. One comedian aboard described our port call in Aruba as a drive-by. Passengers were allowed off at 7:00 a.m. and all aboard was at noon, although the ship waited an extra 45 minutes for a passenger with a medical issue to return from the hospital. My Princess excursion was the Semi-submarine, Shipwreck & Island Drive which left at 7:30 a.m. and included a semi-submarine trip around the sunken German ship Antilla, a visit to the Casibari rock formations and a bus tour of the north side of the island which included stops at the California lighthouse and the natural bridges, the largest of which has collapsed. On the semi-sub, we circled so that both sides could see the wreck while the guide gave a lively narration about the Antilla and the marine life we saw which included a sea turtle and many small fish that swam right up to the windows. At the Casibari rocks, I climbed the steep steps for a panoramic view, but the climb required squeezing through a tunnel-like gap in the rocks and was not recommended for people with mobility issues. There was a botanical garden at the base of the rocks. The tour took the entire time we were in port. The next port was Cartagena, Columbia. I booked the Highlights of Cartagena, Fortress & Las Bovedas tour through Princess and was in the Princess Theater at 8:50 a.m. along with passengers going on other tours to await disembarkation. Princess issued a sticker to wear with the tour number, but Columbia was quite humid so I put it on my hat where perspiration wouldn't affect it. The first stop on the tour was the massive Fort of San Filipe (started in 1536), considered the most formidable of Spanish defensive complexes. The climb to the top of the fort was steep but gave a good view of the layout of the defenses. Also covered on the tour were the old city walls near the ocean, a brief stop at the small shops (former dungeons) of Las Bovedas, the Inquisition Palace, San Pedro Claver Sanctuary and a walk through part of the old town. A final stop was made at the Pierno Gallo shopping center which featured jewelry stores although there was a shop with coffee products and souvenirs. They offered free samples of their coffee candy which was tasty enough for me to bring a bag home. The tour took most of the time in port and all aboard was at 2:30 p.m. for our next stop in Panama. The Island Princess lined up for its approach to the Gatun locks at 6:30 a.m. the next morning and passengers lined the decks to watch the transit and listen to commentary by port lecturer William Fall. It took over an hour and a half to transit the locks and the ship then anchored in Lake Gatun. At 8:40 a.m. tours were called to commence tender operations. My tour was the Panama Canal & Locks Transit by Boat. At 9:30 a.m. I was on the bus headed for the town of Gamboa to embark on the Fantasia del Mar, a 434 passenger tour boat operated by Canal & Bay Tours. Our tour left the dock about 11:30 a.m. and the buffet lunch started at noon, done by sections on the boat to control crowding. Food included chicken skewers, ham and cheese sandwiches, pasta salad, fruit and muffins. Tubs of iced soft drinks and bottled water were available throughout the cruise. We passed through the Galliard (Culebra) Cut, under the Centennial Bridge, transited the Pedro Miguel and Miraflores locks, where a thunderstorm struck, and finally passed under the Bridge of the Americas before docking in Balboa (Panama City) on the Pacific side at 3:15 p.m. Meanwhile, the Island Princess had passed back through the Gatun locks headed to the dock in Colon. Our bus to Colon from Balboa arrived back at the ship at 5:10 p.m., hindered somewhat by heavy traffic. Departure for Limon, Costa Rica was at 6:30 p.m. Photographers found their lenses fogged up immediately when coming from an air-conditioned cabin into the humid morning air at the Canal. It took about twenty to thirty minutes for lenses to warm up. Wiping a lens only helped for a few seconds. Island Princess docked in Limon a little after 7:00 a.m. and the call for my Veragua Rainforest tour came 45 minutes later. The bus arrived at the combination research center and park around 9:30 a.m. and we were offered a choice of the more strenuous path to the 65 foot high waterfall or a less strenuous path through the rainforest before being split into groups, each with a guide. Next our group visited the day and night frog exhibits featuring live poison dart frogs and then entered the insect hall with its colorful collection of mounted butterflies and a live butterfly garden. Following an included lunch of a turkey sandwich and fresh fruit our group watched a researcher mount a butterfly for display and then took the roughly ten minute ride down the aerial tram. Our guide pointed out a sloth in the trees and other items of interest on the way down. Once down, we followed the guide along a boardwalk to a viewing platform at the Puma Waterfall. The walk involved going up and down a number of wooden steps which would have been very difficult for persons with mobility issues. After viewing the waterfall we rode the aerial tram back up to the last part of our tour: the reptile habitat. Here we saw live lizards and snakes including the highly poisonous Fer-de-Lance. A thunderstorm started as we approached the reptile habitat, but we were able to view it and return to the bus without getting soaked and departed at about 12:30 p.m. for the hour and fifteen minute return trip to the ship. All-aboard was at 5:30 p.m., so I used the time to buy some t-shirts and carved wooden items from the vendors set up near the ship. After a sea day the Island Princess anchored off Grand Cayman Island shortly before 7:00 a.m. and tender operations started shortly afterward and I was able to get on a tender 45 minutes later. I chose the Atlantis Submarine Scenic Adventure which left from the North Terminal at 10:05 a.m., so I walked around a bit and took the local bus to the Hell gift shop and rock formations. The bus (really a van) left from the bus terminal on Edward Street near the Public Library and took about 40 minutes to reach Hell, as it stopped to pick up and drop off locals who worked at the resorts along Seven Mile Beach. It only cost $2.50 each way and the friendly drivers accepted U.S. currency. After mailing a postcard from Hell and taking a few pictures of the rock formations, I waved at the next bus, they picked me up and 25 minutes later I was at the North Terminal (across from Margaritaville) in time to join the excursion group. The Atlantis dock was just past the South Terminal on South Church Street (near the Hard Rock Cafe) and our group walked with a guide to the ticket office and boarded the boat to the submarine. The sub was air conditioned with large windows, very smooth underwater and the air pressure stayed at sea level so there was no effect on the ears. We saw a sea turtle and numerous fish including a barracuda and a lionfish. The narrator on-board was humorous and knowledgeable and the entire trip took about an hour and a half with around 45 minutes of dive time. This left plenty of time to check out George Town as the last tender left the North Terminal at 4:30 p.m. I visited the Cayman Islands National Museum located in the Old Courts Building on the corner of Harbor Drive and Shedden Road (across from the harbor). The small but interesting museum had a short film, a Natural History Gallery with a sea turtle nesting diorama, a submarine model with underwater video, exhibits on the geology and habitats of the islands and a Cultural History Gallery which featured a catboat with an animatronics fisherman. The staff was very friendly and the museum was a welcome break from the souvenir shops. After another sea day the Island Princess docked in Fort Lauderdale along with five other cruise ships. I booked the Everglades Airboat Ride & Flamingo Gardens tour since my flight didn't leave until late afternoon. Passengers on this tour met in the casino at 8:10 a.m. and ten minutes later we were allowed off the ship. It only took twenty minutes to find my luggage, clear customs and find the waiting tour bus. It took until 9:20 a.m. to collect all the people going on the tour. Our first stop was at Everglades Holiday Park where we saw the Gator Boys (as seen on Animal Planet) alligator wrestling show. We then took a thirty minute ride through part of the Everglades in a covered airboat holding about 25 people and spotted an alligator and some birds. The park was quite crowded as it was a Saturday during spring break and six cruise ships were in port. We left the park at 11:25 a.m. and went to Flamingo Gardens, a sixty acre botanical collection and wildlife sanctuary featuring native south Florida wildlife and a walk-in aviary. The bus left the park at 1:10 p.m. for the Fort Lauderdale airport. One nice feature of this tour was that your luggage was carried on the bus and you could leave carry-on items inside while at the parks. In addition to the driver there was a guide with us throughout the tour who was quite informative. Princess also offered a service called EZCheck where they pick up your luggage the night before disembarking, deliver it to the aircraft and issue your boarding passes on-board, eliminating the need to check in at the airport, just proceed to security. The cost was $20.00 (added to your shipboard account) plus any regular baggage fees charged by the airline. A Princess shuttle cost $14.00 to the FLL airport and $19.00 to MIA. There were a total of four times changes during this cruise. The Princess Patter always notes them on the front page and the cabin steward places a card on the bed on the night before the change which occurs at 2:00 a.m. In conclusion, I was very pleased with the Island Princess and the service provided by its crew. The itinerary was varied and interesting and I enjoyed all my shore excursions. Hats off to the crew for their handling of the Norovirus outbreak on the previous cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2012
I enjoyed my obstructed view cabin as it was not really obstructed. I could see out just fine and loved the natural light. My cabin stewart was wonderful and after we sorted out my need for ice all was well. Good things: Lots of ... Read More
I enjoyed my obstructed view cabin as it was not really obstructed. I could see out just fine and loved the natural light. My cabin stewart was wonderful and after we sorted out my need for ice all was well. Good things: Lots of swimming pools, large and small. Plenty of chairs, chair hogs were out and about too!! Good shade if you needed it. First day embarkation went smoothly, nice luncheon on the lido deck. Loved the itinerary although I was so tired that I missed their private island. So so things: size of buffet areas. First day we had salt n pepper shakers on table. after that it was packets only. Buffet areas are small, and very disorganized. You had to double back to get salad, or dessert, and were always handed hot plates. They do not use trays on Princess. The dishes are way too big and tend to add to your putting too much on the plate. Many times I ended up just getting a small plate and still had plenty of food. The eggs tasted like instant, very gritty and gross. One day however for breakfast was a cranberry hash that was good. Things that were not so great: Their tea in the dining room. What a disappointment. No organization, shoving dessert in your face before you could manage a tea sandwich. And the most disappointing item was the scones. Hard as a rock and no raspberry, just strawberry. Yuk. They do a "Pub Lunch" on sea days.. ok so Fried shrimp and fries.. yea. so? They had fried shrimp later in the week that was just as good without a line up. Terrible things: The coffee.. OM Goodness.. can we say yukkk. I cannot remember having such a nasty cup on a ship before. I then learned that in order to get fresh brewed coffee one has to "purchase" it for $2.00 plus tip. WHAT?!!?? Excuse me but I have paid a goodly price to be on this ship and now you make me pay for a decent cup of coffee? Not me, and not again. Best things about the ship, a lovely dinner in their steakhouse, good crew. I picked this for the "itinerary" and a change to try a singles group. Ok, so we are all consenting adults, but it is not my thing. I do not need events planned for me as I am used to travelling alone and enjoy my own company. I tend to meet more folks using cruise critic than on a singles group. My next trip it will be back to Celebrity for me. Thanks for reading. K Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
Hey everyone! First and foremost, we had a great time on the cruise! We left out of Port Everglades, FL, went to Grand Cayman, Roatan, Honduras, Belize City, Belize and Cozumel, Mexico. The weather was perfect, seas calm, until we got to ... Read More
Hey everyone! First and foremost, we had a great time on the cruise! We left out of Port Everglades, FL, went to Grand Cayman, Roatan, Honduras, Belize City, Belize and Cozumel, Mexico. The weather was perfect, seas calm, until we got to Cozumel, it drizzled in the morning, but the sun came out later in the day and the seas were a little choppy, but nothing unbearable. The entire crew was very accommodating and friendly! Kudos to Allen in the DaVinci Dining Room, everyone at the excursions desk, Amanda, the Captains Circle Hostess, our Cabin Steward, ALL the bar staff, especially the guys on the ramps, helping you get on and off the ship and tenders(amazing!), and the Hostess at the DaVinci Dining Room(sorry I can't remember her name, she is from Mexico, though.) I have a few favorite ports: Tortola, Antigua and now Roatan! The Island isn't as commercialized as Grand Cayman, The Bahamas or St. Thomas, which is what I love! I have a scooter to get around, due to a broken knee, and there are some doors you can't get out onto the decks, due to the scooter being low to the ground, but there are designated doors that open automatically. If you have a walker, scooter, wheelchair, electric chair, etc. You definitely need a handicap cabin, the doors to the regular cabins won't work. C312 is right next door to the laundromat, which wasn't a problem at all. Only thing, when the carts are in the hallway, it can be a challenge to get around them, but the cabin stewards are always happy to move them out of the way when needed. Prior to booking a cruise with a disability or handicap, please make sure you check if they use tenders or docks when in Port. If they use tenders, per Se, in Roatan, they use their own tenders, so they let me take my scooter on the tender both ways. In Belize, they outsource tenders, so they didn't let me go on the tenders with my scooter, so make sure you double check before booking, just in case. And first thing on the ship, go straight to the excursions desk to see which tours would suit you best. We had to cancel the tour in Belize, because. there was nothing in the "easy" section to choose, and in Cozumel, we changed to a different tour, so we weren't able to see any of the ruins. If you get the DVDs at the end of the cruise, all the tours are included, so you don't miss anything. I have sailed 5 time prior, and 3 times on Princess...A couple things I noticed on this cruise: We chose Anytime Dining; the waiters didn't dance around like they usually do on other ships, usually one night out of the week. (I would not recommend Anytime dinning if you are younger than 40 years old, we are 33 and each night, we were sat with a big table of older people that like to one-up each other on how many grandchildren they have and how many cruises they have been on and train trips around the world-not that there is nothing wrong with any of that, we were just there to have a good time, not hear about their lives.) One night we were sat with a couple, the wife ordered EVERYTHING on the menu 3 times and we missed the last show in the Princess Theater because of her. If you can Choose a dining time, I highly recommend it, but if you don't mind taking hours to eat dinner and listening to people, Anytime Dining is for you. There were no carved ice sculptures; and NO midnight Buffet, although the buffets were open until midnight. This was the first cruise I have been on that that had happened...they did have a beautiful Champagne Waterfall in the Piazza on Formal Nights, maybe that replaced ice sculptures?! And no towel animals, like on Carnival-which was fine- a lot of people would expect it if they haven't cruise Princess! I do think Princess should include hard liquor, beer, wine, etc in a drink plan that people could purchase, instead of paying for each drink....it would be nice. I know Celebrity has several of those plans to choose from. You can purchase 2 soft drink plans, I think they started at $49/pp/wk-includes coffee, hot chocolate, soda, juice, milkshakes, etc, which is extra. I think when you book the cruise, it would be a nice option to add onto your cruise, so as soon as you board you don't get bombarded with people trying to sell you drink plans. The food was great, plenty of options for everyone, you can even ask for the children's menu if you don't see anything on the regular menu/vegetarian menu to your liking, which is nice, there is also the Buffets/Pizza/Ice cream/Burger Bars as back up. My Brother said the Seafood at dinner was amazing...so if you eat seafood, go for it! The Ice cream is so good and get the Dream Boat for Dessert! You will not be disappointed! The dining rooms are loud, so once everyone starts leaving it quiets down some. The entertainment was fantastic. We haven't been on a Princess Cruise in years, so we didn't see all the shows/acts/etc...everything was great! Lisa Ball was our Cruise Director, and she does her job well. She seems to be all over the place at the right times, if not herself, her Deputy Cruise Director, Stu and her Assistant Cruise Directors. We had fun on the tours, but please keep in mind, there were no "Handicap Accessible" transportation via the excursions, so if you can walk steps to get in and out of the vans/buses, the tours are for you, if not, I would make other arrangements. Grand Cayman-the sidewalks are not scooter/wheelchair friendly, just be careful. The tour bus was a mini-bus, not a motor coach, but had A/C! Roatan- TONS of walking(really long walk) from the ship through the port shops to the buses, and even if you want to go to the beach, so if would be great if you had a scooter, if you are older and can't walk long distances or if you are going on tours, you can take the scooter to the bus and the security guards will watch the scooter while you are on the tour, and will be there when you get back. The tour buses are little mini buses, not motor coaches, so it's a tight squeeze. They have A/C! Belize- As I said earlier, you can't bring scooters on the tenders, and the boat ride is about 25 min to Belize from the ship, there are stores right at the doc and a Fat Tuesday's right there, so if you can walk into the boat and walk a little, you can do what we did, took the tenders, went into the shops, bought souvenirs/beer, waited on line to go back on the tenders. We can say that we went to Belize. My brother walked outside the gates and said Belize City right there is scummy, within 5 steps he was offered a massage, tour, drugs, taxi, etc, so he turned around and came back. From what I understand anything outside of the City is beautiful, but we couldn't do a tour, so I can't say for sure. The ride is nice to and from, though! Cozumel- Great Tour-the tour guide had beer/soda/water waiting for us on board, then we went Tequila Tasting, then to a show, the show was a little hot and dark, so we kinda took a nap, because. of all the beer and tequila, but it was a fun tour! I was able to take my scooter and they put it in the compartments under the coach bus. And plenty of A/C to go around for all! Port Everglades- we had to fly in the night before and Stayed at Sleep Inn in Dania Beach-I've stayed here prior, and love the location bec. there's a Walgreen's in the parking lot and across the street-a Strip Mall with Publix Supermarket, a Chinese, Mexican and Italian Restaurants as well as a dollar store. There is free transportation to and from the Airport and Cruise-port, but we had to take a taxi bec. of the scooter, it was just easier. If you scooter comes apart like the GoGo I'm sure you can get on their free vans, but it's just a hassle sometimes. I did have to go to the infirmary because I had bronchitis the entire cruise, and the staff were great! If you are traveling with illnesses, make sure you fill out the paperwork on Princess.com and have your doctor fax it to Princess, bec. it helps the doctors a lot when have to go visit them. There are tons of pools on the ship, the Adults only pool is in the back of the ship, but there are steps to get down to it, there is a bar too, so it's nice not to have kids running around like maniacs, like at all the other pools. The shops are basic, clothes, trinkets, souvenirs, Duty Free, etc. Wait until the last few days of the cruise, things go on clearance, and will be cheaper to purchase at that time, they do have jewelry, purses, ties for $10/ea during that time. I bought two bangle bracelets at a nice discount! The Casino is a good size, and on certain nights they have no smoking, which is really nice for those of us that don't smoke. There are also designated areas on the ship for smoking....they even have "how to play" Activities throughout the cruise, for those of us that have no clue how to play games! It's a Cash Casino. The Photo Gallery- Photo's are $19.99/each and there are tons of opportunities to take portraits all over the ship. If you don't want to shell out $20/picture, just take your own, and kindly decline on photo's. They do have photo packages available for a reduced rate. I purchased the DVD Package, includes 2 DVDs from the events and each port/excursions and another DVD with still photo's that you can print/upload/set screen savers etc.-$39.99, so DO NOT purchase the stock photo's on board if you are getting these DVDs, you will save a boat load of money. There are tons of activities every day on ship for everyone....just make sure you make it out of dinner on time, or you will miss some of the late shows, like the one we missed. Don't miss the Shows in the Princess Theater--they were fantastic! The Comedian, Hypnotist, Pianist and Magician were great as was the International Crew Show! You will laugh! There are also little things going on in the Piazza throughout the day, like Hula Hoopist- Ashley Winn, don't miss her! And some of the dancers/singers perform throughout the cruise there, as well as the Choir, on the last day, performs, which is interesting. There is Bingo, Dancing Lessons, Art Workshops, exercise classes, trivia, etc. all day, as well. I didn't have anything done in the Spa/Salon, but the staff is friendly and the facilities look nice and clean. On the last two days they have specials, so be on the look out for those packages in the Princess Patter. We went to the first Art Auction, I wasn't impressed. The Guys running it only catered to the people that were actually going to shell out money for art, which irked us, because, I am an artist, and I would of bid on some things, but their attitudes turned me off. Princess has their own auction company, so it was a little different than on Carnival or our previous Princess Cruises...BUT there was free cheap champagne. There are nice decks that you can just sit and look out, that are nice and quiet. The TVs have The Wake Show with Lisa Ball & Stu, to tell you the goings on the next day/that day, and there are shopping channels, excursion channels, Movie Channels, Ship View Channel, Ship Stats Channel, which has the clock, so if you sleep with that on, you will catch a clock. We had to change time zones in every port, so It's a GREAT Idea to get a wake up call, because. the phone's clock that you can't see, automatically change, which is helpful. OR BRING YOUR OWN ALARM CLOCK! There isn't one in the cabins. The Wake Show explains Disembarkation, so you should be all set, and pay attention to your Princess Patters/mail at the door/on the beds/desks/etc....valuable information! I hope my review helps you understand the ship/cruise a little bit more than, coming from a 33 year old Single Female that has a scooter, other than the average person. (I know it was long, but I had to share!) If you have any further questions, feel free to contact me: iaminadaze@yahoo.com Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
Just got back yesterday from a relaxing trip aboard the Grand Princess. The ship: beautiful interior, well- appointed and exceptionally clean. We have been on some bigger ships with slightly better amenities that come on the newer mega ... Read More
Just got back yesterday from a relaxing trip aboard the Grand Princess. The ship: beautiful interior, well- appointed and exceptionally clean. We have been on some bigger ships with slightly better amenities that come on the newer mega ships, but this ship is very nice. Service: Overall service was excellent. My only complaint was bar service was very slow during peak times. They named to have more bartenders available during those times as it often took over ten minutes to get served. Stateroom staff was excellent as we're the wait staff in the restaurants. Food: Food was good, fesh and plentiful. One night I got a steak that was not as ordered. The waiter noticed I wasn't eating it and asked if anything was wrong. I told him it was over cooked but not tomworrymI wasn't all that hungry. Then as if by magic, a new plate appeared with a perfect steak. I don't know how he got it so fast. Food isn't gourmet by any standard... But well done considering the 15,000 plates they serve per day. If you're a foodie, you'll need to adjust your standards a little. Dining Room: We opted for the Anytime Dining. Loved the flexibility of eating in main dining rooms anytime between 5:30 and 10:00 or choosing their buffets in the Horizon Court which were quite good and offered a huge variety. The buffet allows you to eat much more quickly if you're in a rich to do something else. And Horizon Court's desert selection looks like a European bakery--- lots of tasty choices. We didn't opt for the optional cover charge restaurants because I was too cheap to spend an extra $75 for the three of us.Entertainment: This is where we were very, very disappointed. Maybe because of the time of year (week before Christmas) but there were a lot of geriatric cruisers complete with canes, walkers and electric mobility scooters... And sadly for us, the majority of entertainment options were programmed for them. I'm 62 and felt like a youngster compared to many of the passengers. The big live production shows were average. No wow factor. All a bit dated. When the cruise staff's talent show is better than the professionals on board, there's a problem. The bands on board were all very average and didn't play anything more current than the 1980's at best. The "big star" in Crooner's lounge is an "entertainer" who plays moldy oldies on the piano accompanied by a very loud karaoke track. Steel drums every day on various decks for seven days made me feel like tossing those tubs overboard. It's fun for the first day but... Activities: Also for the elderly crowd. Bingo, line dancing, trivia contests, several 50's & 60's musical events, etc. Seems their Cruise Director is frozen in timel like the 1980's. My 18 year old was totally bored with almost no options for his age. And my wife and I weren't far behind him. They do have a huge Super Bowl sized outdoor television screen and run movies at night and have popcorn and pizzas available as well as the ability to lay on sun loungers for total comfort. They even provide blankets if it's chilly at night. Ports of call: Aruba, Caracao and Princess Cays. Enjoyed all three. Logistics for getting on and off ship were excellent. If you like to snorkel, I highly recommend Aruba Bob in Aruba. Excellent snorkeling with this operator but you must book them online. We've snorkeled all over the Caribbean and they are by far the best. Nice, experienced and make sure everyone is safe in the water. Per our observation they are excellent teachers for beginners too. Embark/Debark at Port: Princess needs to teach our airlines how to move passengers quickly and efficiently. They provide an excellent experience coming and going. Summing it up: As stated a beginning of this review, we did relax, ate well but were grossly disappointed by the activities and entertainment. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
Staff was very friendly and attentive, I felt welcomed and appreciated, unlike a recent NCL trip. Food was good to very good in the traditional and anytime dinning rooms, the Horizon court buffet was packed during breakfast and lunch but ... Read More
Staff was very friendly and attentive, I felt welcomed and appreciated, unlike a recent NCL trip. Food was good to very good in the traditional and anytime dinning rooms, the Horizon court buffet was packed during breakfast and lunch but the food trays were mostly kept full and tasted OK. Seating here was always an issue and I usually ended up with a table next to a busy main traffic isle as those with window seats around the perimeter did not seam to want to leave anytime soon. The issue here was I ALWAYS had a fellow cruiser walking by me, bumping into me or hovering over my table as I ate, not a relaxing enjoyable experience, unlike the main traditional dinning rooms which were great and I always looked forward to. The Ship was clean and well maintained and the entertainment that I saw was acceptable. The Star does have a lot of heated fresh water deep swimming pools and many hot tubs so I could always find someplace to get wet or soak depending on the weather. The only reason I will not sail on the Star again is I do enjoy a few fine Cigars while on board and the Star does not have a Cigar Lounge, they have designated only ONE Place on the ship were you can smoke a cigar and it is a heavy cigarette smoking, noisy and rowdy sports bar with your basic bar stools and bar table and chairs and a dozen TV's with all the same sports programming. It is true that Cigar smokers are a minority but for me it is an important part of the cruise experience and the Star Princess did not meet my expectations in this regard and as such I would not sail on her again, which is unfortunate as I had a overall good time on a good ship. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2013
This review favours the ship more than the destination. My TA offered me a cruise for 869. pp incl taxes for 2 wks in Alaska August 28 - Sept. 11, 2013. My daughter and I cruised strictly for r & r. As "destination cruisers" ... Read More
This review favours the ship more than the destination. My TA offered me a cruise for 869. pp incl taxes for 2 wks in Alaska August 28 - Sept. 11, 2013. My daughter and I cruised strictly for r & r. As "destination cruisers" we sailed w/ apprehension as "journey cruisers". First we'd been to Alaska before and as natives of British Columbia we were not impressed . northern B.C boasts more dramatic and stunning landscapes unless.the traveller is seriously into ice burgs, but Vancouver is our home port. we took public transport and walked straight onto the ship about 2 pm. we cruised w/ carnival (1st and last time) elation and Norwegian star (tolerable w/ a balcony cabin) in feb. (see my reviews) and i was hassled over wearing my glasses for pics, so princess' laid back, but efficient boarding was a treat. our cabin was ready and lucky us we'd been upgraded from an inside to a window cabin. as always we headed straight to the spa and purchased access to the thermal suite (99 per wk) -the special area (10 for a morn or aft) is just plain silly in alaska and was deserted - whose going to pay to sit outside in a cabana in freezing weather? who would sit there for free? the thermal suite offers heated bed similar to HAL, but less elegant and 3 wet spas - eucalyptus, tropical and plain steam. open 9 - 10 my daughter and i went up every night at 9 and relaxed. we had set early dinner, but princess offer "freestyle" if desired. warning - long lines for couples who don't share and large groups. if that's you i'd opt for a set time. dining rm opens at 5:15, but couples got in at 5 somehow and glommed on to a window seat. there was a mix up in our reservation and we were led to a table for 6 --mario, the mgr quickly found us a table for 2 and that worked well for the rest of the voyage. Food - less than HAL, better than NCL or Carnival. i'm diabetic so i eat 5-6 small meals a day so i usually opted for 2 appetizers and 1 desert. sugarless desserts were scrumptious especially the mango mouse cake and taramisu. salads few and mostly inedible w/ bitter greens which drove me to discover .the buffet on the Lido deck had a sumptuous salad bar - we also took to going up there for dessert because of the variety and they were identical in qaullity to dining rm fare. formal night - always the second night at sea uually has surf and turf, but on our cruise it was available first night -- odd. i don't eat red meat, so i was offered 2 servings of prawns (no lobster on the pacific coast). lunch was in the buffet. indian food w/ a different curry every day, great salads, lots of cheese, cold cuts and sandwich fixins', fresh roast of lamb or pork or beef sliced to order, chicken entrees, and fruit and veggies galore. also a burger bar available and an ice cream station. breakfast in the dining rm - pastries, juices, waffles, pancakes,oatmeal, lox and bagels, eggs bennie, and any other way you might order your eggs, ham bacon sausages, hash browns wtx. the buffet also available. In Ketchican (the salmon were running) we had a fresh salmon bar b q. room service - free - pizza $5. rm service offers little variety and the food is ho hum. mostly sandwiches, the ceasar salad was inedible. we discovered we could order the fruit plate and cheese plate from the dining room (marius strikes again) and they would deliver it to our cabin. cabins big and comfortable w/ 2 lg beds side by side and a small table. usual amt of closet spc. safe. shower in bathroom. cabin smaller than HAL; bigger than NCL. robes available on request. our room server was always available and honoured our request to skip the nightly cheap chocolate and towel animals. he knew we ate on schedule and serviced our room when we were at breakfast or dinner. service was fine, but i expect that on a cruise. no complaints; no kudos. room clean (my daughter is fussy). vacuumed weekly. Ports - Ketchican - rains a lot - opposite Prince Rupert, BC (90 min drive) - small and accessible by walking off ship. shopping and small art galleries on Creek st. tours for whale lovers and animal lovers. architecture ho hum. you can walk in the woods - no tour, but be careful not to get lost.not great for shopping wait for Juneau (next port) Juneau. - capital of alaska. pop. 32K. only accessible by ship or plane. first stop on the turn of the century gold rush trail shoppers paradise w/ great sales in sep. - every week in sept. the prices drop except inketchican.. walking distance from ship (10 min to town). Red Dog saloon complete w/ sawdust on the floor -- worth a drink to soak up the ambiance. adequate band w/ a sense of humour.. we were there on a sunday and tried to go to church, but the priest was stuck in a nearby town and his lane was delayed by fog. that info was almost as good as mass. Skagway - it was cold and rainy. took shuttle from ship to town. ($2). museum of gold rush has film and a few artifacts of the bygone era (free). first stop on the gold rush trail and my personal favorite town in alaska.did you know wyatt earp dealt farrow on a ship off the coast for 28 years? train trip booked on ship (1 1/2 hr) gives you a great tour of the surrounding landscape and fun to spot animals. the six block old town in the centre of town is preserved exactly the way it was at the turn of the century w/ wooden sidewalks and freshly painted, but authentic buildings (if you like architecture bring your camera). be sure to see the former mayor's office made out of drift wood.great little restaurants and snack shacks w/lg portions of plain , but hearty fare. shoppers paradise, but diamonds international here is like Juneau. if you get tired of souveneer shops-- try the russian store and for you ladies "temptations" is a fine boutique w/ enchanting styles. i can't resist a visit and always buy something -- remember sept. sales. Red Onion saloon and brothel (offers tours of the brothel along or town and brothel museum at ridiculous prices. still, ladies in authentic dress serve lunch and drinks. Wittier - stay on ship. pop. 225 fork and 90 per cent live in one bldg. from ship you can see the bldg surrounded by train freight depot. really ugly site. Ship - lots to do - we went for a lecture on how to take better pictures, a craft class (on the way up we mad birthday cards and on the way back, boxes), the spa had a health seminar - beware spas are pushing a seaweed cure that my doctor says is bogus. all seminars, even the footprint analysis, end up in selling the algae cure. the spa offers a stretch class 7-7:30 am followed by abs crunch .lots of state of the art fitness equipment. we got hooked on trivia offered 2 times a day, great fun. scrabble and card games offered. i met a woman who entered the elevator chuffed at getting a word for an enormous amt of points. the casino offers bingo as well as the usual slots, cards etc. i was pleased to see the casino was tucked aft and could be avoided if you so choose. taking and perusing and hopefully, on the part of the photographers, buying pics seemed to be a major pastime. Entertainment:the usual hoaky musicals provided w/ the exception of the New Orleans musical that played great music related to new orleans that was so entertaining we watched it on the way up to seward and back. a vegas type music man was pretty good if you like soul. the motown musical was ok as was the world offering. there only the celtic music fit the dancing.-- how could you get jive wrong? the illusionist was disappointing -- he pulled his wife out of ten different boxes - yawn! skipped the comedian. princes offers movies unders the stars, but in alaska its music under the ice, on our trip to the spa at night we saw a few hardy souls who were covered in blankets and cloths that coverdevery part of their bodies excet the eyes. who cares if they offer free pop corn. noone ate it because they would have to remove their mittens. i am happy to report a couple of the movies were shown inside, for example the latest star trek rip off -- it was sad - a rehash of "the wrath of kahn" w/ action and a muddied storyline. a tom cruise sci fi was also shown -- so forgetable i forgot the title. at least i as warm. drinks available during evening performances. The highlight of the trip was dr. ryan, a naturalist. who lectured on the history of the gold rush, whales/otters and took you on deck to see them, and ice burgs. a movie on the people who live in alaska (available on your cabin tv) was enlightening. real survivalists. also park rangers came on board for 6 hrs and taught about the ice burgs and wildlife. while i appreciated that others were thrilled w/ alaska i like the philosophy of a man on deck who said to me, "what is the socially acceptable length of time to stare at an ice burg?" my sentiments exactly. tourists who come to alaska are a hearty breed. on the whole i enjoyed my trip. there was plenty to do on the ship. sometimes i felt like i was running from activity to activity and i skipped a lot. there was time to read and relax. there was also dancing in the bars. and late night activities i skip. i came for r & r and i came home rested and happy. Read Less
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