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3 Princess Caribbean Princess Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Caribbean - Eastern from San Juan

Notwithstanding the very long flight from Jersey (no, not New Jersey, how many times did we get fed up of saying that, but then 65% of Americans could not point out the Uk on a map), the extra flight to Dominican Republic our travel agent ... Read More
Notwithstanding the very long flight from Jersey (no, not New Jersey, how many times did we get fed up of saying that, but then 65% of Americans could not point out the Uk on a map), the extra flight to Dominican Republic our travel agent did not tell us about, the lost bag at San Juan and the overnight hotel that had not allowed for our eight year old as requested, we boarded the next day. Embarkation Pretty good. We were told that embarkation was from 2pm but when we arrived at 1.30pm it was obvious that it had already started, hence we found it very efficient and were in our cabin in no time. Signs and information around the boat are pretty poor and in some cases, you have to go up stairs to go downstairs to get where you want. Sunbeds were usually OK to find but the second week seemed to allow a lower class of passenger which affected the enjoyment of everyone else. (E.g. pool diving into a full pool, sitting for minutes on an exercise machine reading a magazine, 'reserving' a sunbed and trying to claim it five hours later, shouting 'WHOOO' repeatedly after sniffing any alcoholic bottle, issuing everyone with a hooter for New Years Eve and them blowing it from 8pm) Cabin Small but expectedly so. Clean and efficiently looked after. Eating Only found out after six days there was a buffet upstairs, probably because we don't eat every hour as some seem to do. At least that stopped us explaining why we regarded the menu as a choice rather than a tick list. Menus were a little restricted and predictable. Some good dishes some bad (could have played basketball with one piece of fish). Eastern European waiters need to know that sarcasm and sneering are not accepted on cruises like this. And wine waiters need to know how to serve wine. Sports Three table tennis tables (one broken for half the week), kids clubs that seemed shut when the boat was in harbour (i.e. most of the time) and a well kept gym although more air con was needed and a water fountain that could have dispensed water colder than tepid. Entertainment Not big fans of this, so that sways my judgement. The comedians weren't that funny and mostly had 'in' jokes about parts of America (lost). Dance routines seemed tired and the whole shebang seemed debased to the lowest common denominator of visual enjoyment, like the Princess Pop Star around the New Year. As someone aptly put it, "so they let you do your own entertainment then." Not enough for kids to do as partly explained above. We would have liked to take our child to the bridge and saw that Princess were organising a tour of that, the engine room and other parts of the boat. For $150 each !!! The giant TV either showed dumbed down movies (no more Abba, please I beg you) or sport which was either American channel ESPN or international ESPN, which was mostly American. Tipping The Princess way is to add a charge to your room bill daily. OK fair enough , but $11 each day and for each person is taking the proverbial, not forgetting that any drinks bill from the bar incurs it's own 15% tip. We learned that you could waive this, which we duly did and tipped those who deserved it. I understand that the Princess way rewards all the staff by sharing it out, but they need to make this realistic. Shops Overpriced tat mostly. Wine tasting would have been good but all the bottles were the 'cheapest' only so I didn't bother. On the whole, having heard from friends about their cruises, I may have another one, but with someone else. There were twelve ports of call but this forum only allows six so the below picks out the good and bad. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Background While we enjoyed our cruise, we will not be traveling on the Caribbean Princess again anytime soon, especially if she sails from San Juan. There are too many people on this ship for the size of the public rooms, and it ... Read More
Background While we enjoyed our cruise, we will not be traveling on the Caribbean Princess again anytime soon, especially if she sails from San Juan. There are too many people on this ship for the size of the public rooms, and it appears that Princess is heavily marketing the ship to first time cruisers, some of whom appear to be unfamiliar with normal shipboard etiquette. We were also very disappointed that Princess sold this as a 14 day cruise, but then repeated the entertainment and menu for the second week. Travel to the Port/Embarkation This was one of the two worst embarkations we have ever experienced, and by far the worst embarkation we've ever had with Princess. We took a taxi to the pier and arrived to chaos. There were one or two people with Princess uniforms, but no one was providing any instructions. It turned out that you were supposed to wait in one medium length line to drop off your bags (and be hassled for tips by the porters) and then get in a much longer line to enter the terminal building. We counted well over 400 people waiting when we got there, in a long line that snaked through the parking lot in the baking sun. We've traveled with Princess to many hot places, but there was no sign of their customary shade canopies or ice water. We waited in line for over an hour just to have our passports checked to be allowed into the building. Preferred boarding did not apply until you entered the building. We later heard speculation that blame for the long line was with US Immigration, who sent only two people to check passports in order to send a message to Princess for a problem that had occurred on the prior cruise. There were in fact only two agents checking passports at the door at first. Later, there were four, but they stood two in front and two behind, so the line did not move much faster because there was confusion about which passengers had already showed their passports to the two agents in front. In any event, after a long hot wait, we were finally allowed inside the building and preferred check-in was quick and painless. However, there was another long line at security and then we stood in another line for another passport check at the bottom of the escalators to get on the ship. Stateroom We had a balcony cabin on Riviera deck. It seemed smallish, with just adequate storage space for 2 people who are not big packers. The bathroom was small, and the shower was microscopic, with only a soap dish and no place to put any toiletries in the shower. Our steward took good care of us, but ice seemed to be available only on request. There was wireless internet access in the cabin but cell phone service was generally available only in port, contrary to the ads. Dining We had traditional second seating for dinner, where the food was good to very good and the service was excellent. We did not eat in the alternative restaurants. We ate breakfast and lunch in the buffet, where the food and service were fine but the buffet layout is lousy and the seating is inadequate for the number of passengers. Sometimes one side of the buffet was closed down at 2:00, before many people had eaten lunch, resulting in very long lines on the other side. The toasters in the buffet did not actually make toast - they struggled just to heat the bread. Lemonade was only available during lunch and only if you ask someone to fetch it for you and only on sporadic days. A Mexican buffet one day at lunch in Cafe Caribe was excellent. The International Cafe had good coffee, pastries, and light lunch selections. Service One of the tickets for a pre-booked shore excursion was missing from the envelope delivered to our cabin on embarkation day - something that had never happened to us on Princess - but it was quick and easy to fix. Front desk service was excellent. The internet manager ran hot and cold. One day when we sought help with a solution to their software problem, he threatened to charge us $75 if we went even one minute (at 50 cents a minute) over our plan. In general, I thought that many of the crew members that we came across in hallways, especially the room stewards, seemed tired and unhappy. On other Princess ships, I've been impressed with the smiling greetings that you get from everyone, but not on this ship. It took a day and a half to get a fruit bowl in our cabin, also a first for us with Princess. Something that was mildly annoying was that the crew seemed to change their mind on a daily basis as to whether the line for getting off the ship was on the right or the left. We had been told that Tortola would be a tender port, which affected the plans we made for that port, but when we got there we docked instead. There also seemed to be more maintenance issues on this ship than we've experienced on other Princess ships - there were sinks, toilets, and elevators out of service for days on end. The most striking thing about this ship is the number of people on board. Although the ship is otherwise largely the same as other ships in her class, this ship has an extra deck of cabins, resulting in 500 more people than the public rooms are suited for. The photographers on this ship are especially aggressive, and portraits are taken most nights on deck 7, resulting in the hallways being half blocked off in three different locations. You will be well aware of just how many people this ship holds when you try to walk end to end on deck 7 in the evening - it is gridlock (and you will be forced to walk through the smoky casino or walk outside). Our biggest disappointment was that this cruise had been sold as a 14 day cruise, but we were treated as if we had booked the same 7 day cruise twice, even though the itinerary in the second week was different. The menu and the entertainment were repeated the second week. Getting off the ship to tour in San Juan on turnaround day was subject to a bunch of rules about when we could get off and when we would be allowed back on the ship. To get back on, we figured out how to skip the long line of embarking passengers in the parking lot (although nobody told us that was even possible) but still had to wait in a long security line. Halfway through the cruise, we were given new ship cards and instructed to make new arrangements for our table in the dining room. We received a log of the cruise that covered only the second week. Some of these were minor issues, but ones that passengers shouldn't have to face halfway through a 14 day cruise. The other issue that we experienced (a first for us in over 20 cruises) related to the behavior of other passengers. It appeared to us that Princess must have heavily marketed this cruise on a discount basis to first time cruisers, which is fine, but Princess needs to be aware that the behavior of some of the new passengers may deter some of their longtime customers from coming on this ship. People played boom boxes on their balconies and out on the open deck and yelled on cell phones on balconies. People routinely walked in and out of shows, seemingly always from the middle of one of the front rows, halfway through performances. In the hallway outside our cabin, most of the inside cabins had 4 people in them. Those passengers must have found the quarters too close for their comfort, because they seemed to spend most of their time standing in the hall talking, laughing, yelling, and running, sometimes for hours at a time and sometimes very late into the night. At times, it was difficult to get out our cabin door and down the hall. Groups of teenagers congregated in elevator lobbies and on the stairways, sometimes with boom boxes, and sometimes leaving behind empty plates and glasses and discarded food. We constantly saw kids sitting on the stairs, but never saw a crew member ask them to move. There was also a lot of smoking on the nonsmoking side of the ship. If you normally rely on the book swap in the library (or the library itself) to provide you with reading materials, forget it on this ship and bring everything you need. The library is tiny and the book swap is virtually non-existent. Entertainment The embarkation day show was a flamenco guitarist from Puerto Rico with 3 dancers. This group does not travel with the ship and plays only on the day in Puerto Rico. The show was very good, but much of it was conducted in Spanish (undoubtedly because of the high percentage of Spanish speakers on board). Carl Strong, who used to open for Gladys Knight, was funny as a comedian and a great singer. The production shows were good, with lots of energy. One show focused on Caribbean tunes and songs in Spanish. The house band, Elements, was terrific, especially when playing faster stuff. In the Wheelhouse, they seem to have been instructed to play elevator music, which was a bit of a snooze and a waste of the lead singer's energetic dancing. The steel band was good too, and the entertainment in the atrium was good. James Michael, the "bad boy" magician/cage fighter, was entertaining, but Rollin Jay Moore was only OK. Bert Stratton, a pianist who made weird faces, would have been better if he'd just played it straight instead of acting like Jim Carrey, but his sing-alongs were fun. The Geraldo Sa quartet was just so-so. The crew show was excellent. Gary DeLena was pretty good the first time but not as good during the farewell show. Ports We chose this cruise because of the itinerary, and we weren't disappointed. Shore excursions were very well run. Disembarkation We were told that we could not take our own bags off the ship because of US Customs rules. We had to be out of our cabins at 8AM. We waited a few minutes in a public lounge and then were called to get off. Finding our bags and getting through US Customs was quick and easy. Summary The itinerary was great and the accommodations, food, service, and entertainment were all fine (apart from repeating the menu and entertainment the second week), but there are simply too many people on this ship. After factoring in the disappointing behavior of many fellow passengers and the hassles of embarking in San Juan, we won't be back on the Caribbean Princess anytime soon. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Mornings are downright horrible, with the ship anchoring, very very noisy, I was in the front, so don't know if it makes a difference, but the noise goes on for an hour and you end up with a headache.The rest of the cruise you ... Read More
Mornings are downright horrible, with the ship anchoring, very very noisy, I was in the front, so don't know if it makes a difference, but the noise goes on for an hour and you end up with a headache.The rest of the cruise you don't even realize when the ship moves. Nights you hear some strange noises which people said was heavy wind. If you are a light sleeper, don't expect good sleep as in every room you hear people outsideinitial costs seem viable, but towards the end everything adds up, for eg: be prepared to double your initial budgetif the cruise cost you x000, be ready to spend another 500 on taxes, another 500 on tips, another 500 on drinks/expenses aboard ship, another 1000 on shore excursions, 200 on taxi fo airport commute, another 3000 on airfare, another 500 on new clothesEmbarking was pretty disorganized but thankfully it went off real fast. They make you sit in seats and then have no clue who came first. While disembarking on the last day, they delayed and embarrassed the heck out of me and my family by the machine making loud sounds when my card went through, to stop me, all because they had made a mistake and credited me incorrectly for another guy's payment. Well, the ship guy sure was decent about it, but could have been more inclined to compensating us for the ordeal of making us stand and wait for quite some time. He wanted me to go 5 floors up to swipe my card I told him to take a walk so he offered to do it.Ship  crew come from all over, so may not share your holiday excitement at greeting on passing.Casino: not much poker options, there was only an automated table for texas hold 'em, mostly down, and when it was up, would take forever to come on, and was mostly cash games where the rake went faster than ever as there was no dealer. Tourneys would be held occasionally when you least expect it.Communication: Wish they improve personal communications, it is a pain to be in touch with your roommate/friends if neither of you are not in your room. Rent some decent walkie-talkies or let us use our cell phones or something. Internet communication is downright awfully slow and costs an arm.Food items are unlabeled in nights, so you have no idea what you are eating...the kitchen crew skulk around like rats.  The only nice food item during the whole cruise was gone before we could make it there. C'mon, if your passengers like it so damn much, have more of it.  No advance notice of what items will be featured in future menus.  Not much Vegetarian fare, in fact it sucked for vegetarians.  Fine dining is rushed and awful, has same item everyday as main item, and the helpings are ridiculously small and tasteless.  Not very courteous, very fake attitudes (well, it is free after all)  The old guy Maitre'd at the Corral Room was downright obnoxious and unfriendly.  Every drink and even coffee is carefully charged back, overpriced to your room    The biggest con job by these cruises is the lack of decent drinks.  You have to pay through your nose for soft drinks, and fresh juice is totally non-existent, the OJ was watered down crap, everyday. If my Breakfast OJ is bad, my day doesn't go very smoothly.  C'mon, we are paying top dollar and we get such pathetic food ? Breakfast spread was ok, cereals were good, hashed browns were downright awful frozen stuff, omelettes were just so-so.  Too greasy. and the aisles were too narrow. Did I mention that the OJ was bad. Coffee was excellent, Tables were cleaned very fast. Alcohol costs go through the roof I was able to smuggle in a bottle of scotch without a fuss on the first day. Apparently it is allowed only the first night of the cruise, I guess because the xray is the port's not the cruise line's.       Shore Excursions: The only difference between Cruise-arranged and doing your own is they will come with a placard.  Do your homework of places you would like to see beforehand and bargain it with taxi operators, or ask at the tourist booth what a good rate to pay is.  People at all the islands, whether near the pier or not are extremely friendly and trustworthy, at least the ones I met were: The only difference between Cruise-arranged and doing your own is they will come with a placard.Remember, for some reason, GPSs don't work in ANY of the Caribbean area, not only did my Mio and Navigon GPSs promise Puerto Rico, they didn't support it at all, but the worst part was lack of finding any GPS satellites !! The cruise was much less fun without GPS, unless the ship was jamming these signals.Massage services are ok, rates fall on last day, look for dealsKid sitting services and activities were very good Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Caribbean Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 4.2
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.5 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.8
Family 3.5 3.8
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 3.5 3.3
Service 4.0 4.2
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 3.0 4.2

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