My wife and I just finished our first sail with Caribbean Princess to celebrate our 25th anniversary. We are at our late 40s, and have never been in a land-based resort or cruise ship before, though we travel every year in Europe on our own by car. After our booking and before our trip, I had read most of the reviews and message boards in this site to ensure I have picked the right ship. The reason I chose Caribbean Princess because it's new. I would like to share my experience and answer questions I posted in the message boards.
Embarkation: We stayed one week at WestGate South Beach to relax ourselves. On June 12, we returned our rental car to FLL airport. The car rental company had shuttle bus to take us to the terminal. On arrival, porters took care of our luggages. We went into the terminal to find about 500 people there lining up for embarkation. There were about 20 counters and the service was efficient. It took us less than 15 minutes from the shuttle bus to the stateroom.
Stateroom: We book inside on Baja. The stateroomwas clean, new and had wood decoration, with ample closet space. We are very used to one bedroom time share unit of five to six hundred square feet, but this stateroom was sufficient to meet our needs. I don't have any complaint at all.
The ship: Terrific. It was big, clean, beautiful and well organized. The ship was full, so there were 3,400 passengers there. We were able to find our private space, particularly on deck 16 where the spa is. We usually arrive at the Princess Theatre 15 minutes before the show, so we never had any problem finding seats at the front row. Of course, I had seen those coming right on the minute before the show to discover all the seats had been taken. Princess scored A+ in crowd management.
Traditional or Personal Choice Dining: We had first seating at Island Dining Room. We also booked on the first day a table at Sabatani, which unfortunately was cancelled by us due to my illness. I still don't understand how the system works. We had a table reserved for us at Island, but on two evenings, we went to Palm and Coral, because of other reasons, and we were entertained. Apparently, we had an empty table there but we were eating somewhere else. It seems we had the privileges of both traditional and personal choice dining, but those had personal choice dining did not have a table always reserved for them.
Food: Good but not excellent. My wife and I are so used to find dining, so the food on Caribbean Princess was of no surprise to us. Buffets are always buffets on deck 15, and the food quality is far from gourmet dining. We understand what we eat depends on how much we pay, and we are not complaining. We would not go on a cruise because of the food there.
Service: This is an interesting area. Our stateroom attendant was Ferendao from Philippines and dining room waitor and his assistant were Wunchai and Sombat, both from Thailand. Their service was superb, and they were very attentive to our needs. There was one problem, though. Most of the crew members we had talked to were not from English speaking countries. Though English is the third language of mine, I had spent long enough in North America to understand English of different accents. Most of the crew members apparently had difficulties with their English language skills. The only exception was those from the entertainment crews, since most of them are from UK.
Entertainment: Again, what you get is how much you pay. Don't expect Vegas type of entertainment, not even close. The shows were slightly better than those done by students from college of performing arts. They had Princess Idol, a talent show from passengers, which was great and fun. We went to every one of them in Club Fusion.
Princess Key: Beautiful beach with adequate facilities for a few hours of sun bathing and swimming. One big complaint though. We rented two snorkelling package for $20 each. My wife's life vest worked but mine did not. I went for an exchange. The guy at the booth gave me another one and put the one with air constantly leaking back to the pile. The new one I got leaked as well. Since I could swim, I did not bother changing it again. Safety and equipment rental on Princess Key were major concerns to me.
Montego Bay: This is absolutely a waste of time. We should have chosen to stay to enjoy the ship, instead of going ashore.
Cayman Island: We went to the Stingray City with Captain Marvin. It was not easy to find Captain Marvin. Once ashored, we should have turned left and walked 200 meteres to find the big yellow house, where Captain Marvin was. Service was great. The stingray City was the only highlight of all of our shore tour.
Cozumel: Very disappointed. It was hot, hot and hot. The air was polluted because of the construction work. We went to the Atlantis Submarine, which is not bad, but not worth the money. Downtown Cozumel was a mess. I preferred Cancun to Cozumel. My wife bought some tanzanite; the price is better than that in Canada.
Overall, I am glad I did my first cruise with Caribbean Princess. I consider my money well spent, since the $1000 included food, accommodation, transportation and entertainment. Service was not top class, but adequate only. I would not, however, return to a cruise trip in the near future, because both my wife and I prefer driving on the back roads in Europe than joining a big crowd of a few thousand people for vacation. Should we try again perhaps five years later, we would not opt for a ship for the mass market. We may consider at least HAL or QM.
OVERALL GRADE: my grade: A, wife's grade: A
Perspective My wife and I are in our early thirties and have so far vacationed only infrequently. This trip was her first cruise ever and my first cruise as an adult. My two other cruising experiences were as a child and I have only vague memories of those vacations. We chose Princess and the Caribbean Princess in particular because we liked the idea of a large new ship, we liked the ports of call, the price was reasonable, and we were leery of sales pressure, nickel and diming, and crass/cheesy activities that we anticipated on some other lines.
Stateroom (my grade: A-, wife's grade: A- ) We booked a category BD balcony cabin on the Baja deck. The room was very clean and was maintained in an immaculate condition throughout the cruise by the room steward. Storage in the bathroom was ample with countertop around the sink and three small shelves for toiletries. We did not bring and over-the-door shoe storage device for extra storage and would not have used it if we had. The shower was small (my wife had difficulty shavingher legs) but water pressure and temperature were good. The only peculiarity of the bathroom was a relative lack of cold water from the tap. The coldest if ever became was luke warm.
We found closet space and storage shelves to be much more than expected. A small safe is located on one of the shelves and it functioned well the entire week. Within the main room, there are two nightstands, a small desk, and a unit in the corner that contains a refrigerator on the bottom, storage in the middle (with two glasses and a bottle of water for sale), and a TV on the top. The only complaint I have about the room is that the location of the refrigerator within the bottom cabinet provides very little ventilation and as a result the refrigerator did not work well at all. Since my existence is absolutely dependent on cold Diet Pepsi, I was forced to find a solution. To make a long story short, one must disconnect the refrigerator door from the cabinet door my gently lifting the refrigerator door 1/4 inch to disengage the sliding connection mechanism and then keep the cabinet door open all the time (one can easily reconnect the doors at the end of the cruise with no harm done). The AC in the room is quite robust and worked nicely. The only clock in the room is a small LCD on the phone. For this reason, we were glad that we brought a full size clock radio.
The balconies on the Baja deck are the smallest of the balcony types and contain a plastic table and two chairs. The balcony is completely covered and quite private unless someone peeks around from either side. Looking down one has a view of the 1/2 covered Caribe desk balconies and the fully exposed Dolphin deck balconies (both have loungers in addition to the two chairs and a table). We liked the covered balcony since a break from the sun was frequently welcome. We never slept with the door open, however a bungee cord to keep the door open would not have been necessary. Overall, we loved the balcony and hope to get another in the future.
Dining Palm Dining Room - PC with standing reservation for 6:00 (my grade: A-, wife's grade: B+) We dined in the Palm dining room 5 nights, four of which were at the same table. The staff were clearly working hard to turnover the tables rapidly. This was great for us since we tend not to linger over meals. If you prefer a more measured pace, you might not have been happy. We usually arrived at approximately 5:50 and were out the door by 7:00. Service was excellent on four of the nights and just adequate on the other. The overall quality of the food was very good to excellent given the number of patrons. As expected, the cuisine was not "5-star". We had no problems obtaining a table for two each night.
The menu order was: Sailaway, Captain's Welcome, Italian, Caribbean, Chef's, Captain's Gala, and Landfall.
Sabattini's Tratoria (my grade: A-, wife's grade: A-) We believed the experience was worth the extra $40.00 and have no regrets. You are served small amounts of many different items (the entree is the only selection you make) that add up to a large meal at the end. Service was excellent.
Cafe Caribe & Horizon Court (my grade: B, wife's grade: B-) Dining is these venues is hard to evaluate since there was much variability for different meals and between different food items. Dinner time was the highlight and breakfast the lowlight. My wife believes that breakfast was better in Horizon Court than in Cafe Caribe. Neither was crowded except on the first and last days of the cruise. Service with respect to water, beverages, and clearing plates was excellent. Quality of deserts was variable but we were always able to find something to our liking during our late night raids.
Trident Grill & Pizza (my grade: A, wife's grade: A-) Burgers, hot dogs, and brats were very good. Whatever they pay the guys who work over the grill, it is not enough.
Afternoon Tea in Coral Dining Room (my grade: A-, wife's grade: A-) Tea, scones, little pastries, and little sandwiches. All very good.
Coffee everywhere (my grade: N/A, wife's grade: D-) Watered down and bad tasting according to my wife.
Room Service (no grade) We attempted to order dining room items to our room but were told by the person who answered the phone that this was not possible (only a limited menu available). We were disappointed since other reviews had mentioned that this was an option. We asked at the guest services desk but did not recieve a clear answer.
Other Public Areas Pools & Deck Chairs (my grade: A-, wife's grade: B-) The two main pools always attracted a crowd. Likewise, until near the end of the cruise the hot tubs at these pools always seemed to be filled. We were able to find quiet times in the aft pool and the spa pool/hot tubs during the early evening and at night. Deck loungers around the pool were difficult to obtain but there were always many empty loungers in less prime locations. My wife noted numerous instances of saving loungers and was mildly annoyed.
All other areas... ... were very clean, well maintained, and tastefully decorated. Club fusion and the wheelhouse bar were underutilized by the passengers but the explorers lounge on a few occasions had standing room only.
Perhaps our only complaint is that the forward portion of the Promenade deck is closed after sunset for "safety reasons". One neat location that was relatively undiscovered by most passengers was a deck on top of the bridge that is accessed by going all the way forward on the lido deck and through two sets of doors. Great views but sometimes closed for high winds.
Entertainment We do not have much to say about the entertainment since we did not attend many events.
Caribbean Caliente Show (my grade: C-, wife's grade: C) I dislike this type of thing even if it were Broadway quality so you may want to disregard my opinion. My wife thought it was cheesy and the sound was loud beyond the point of distortion. She did however like the dancing and the props. Not enough seats on the first night (Thursday), but plenty on the second night.
Skywalkers Bar (my grade: B+, wife's grade: B+) Wonderful location and decent crowds on both formal nights. A bit too much hip-hop and rap music for our dancing taste. The new college grad crowd liked the hip-hop (60%) but we prefer more 80s (20%) or trance (10%) or techno (10%).
Movies Under the Stars (my grade: A, wife's grade: B+) Well organized and a fun way to spend a few hours. The blankets were not needed and the popcorn was not the best but we had a great time. If you see "Starsky and Hutch" we recommend going a little drunk. The other movie was "Calendar Girls".
Ports of Call
St. Thomas We did not participate in ship tours and chose to remain on St. Thomas since we felt the travel time to St. John was more than we were willing to devote. We split our time between Coki beach, Sapphire beach, and Magen's Bay beach with taxi rides in between.
Coki Beach Dive Club (my grade: A++, wife's grade: A) We booked the discover scuba tour by calling Coki beach dive club directly, this saved us $30.00 each compared to the same activity through Princess. We were met at the gangway by an employee who directed the ship's excursion people onto a bus and then drove us over to Coki in her car. Once there we received very brief instruction on scuba diving and the people on the ship's excursion went out first in groups of 6. We occupied ourselves by snorkeling and were very pleased my the numerous fish. When the people on the ship's excursion returned after about an hour, we went out with the next available dive master and had him all to ourselves since we were the only two who booked independently (despite three ships in port!). In anticipation of this activity, my wife did a discover scuba class at our local dive shop and thus had about two hours of pool diving experience under her belt by the time we got to Coki (I am certified), this worked out very well and put her at ease. Coki is not the best reef in the world but it is good for beginners since the sandy bottom slopes gently downward and there is no need to go deeper that 40 feet or so. We saw many fish, an eel, and much coral. We liked the experience so much that we went for a second dive before the next cruise ship group arrived at 1:00. The people at the dive club were friendly and made sure we had a great time. They provide secure storage of personal effects for their patrons.
Sapphire Beach Great beach with OK snorkeling. Fresh water showers to wash off the sand. A few iguanas wandering about. One of the culinary highlights of the entire trip was a blackened Mahi-mahi sandwich (grade: A++) at the beach-bar all the way to the right (as you are facing the sea) near the little jetty . The bar has pools on two sides and is associated with a resort of some type. No secure storage of personal effects.
Magen's Bay Somewhat crowded but quite beautiful with clear water. We are glad that we took the time to at least see this area. No secure storage of personal effects.
Driving on the island was anxiety inducing and we are glad that we did not rent a car.
Rhino Rider Excursion (my grade: A, wife's grade: A-) We started the day with the ship's Rhino Rider excursion from 8:00-11:00. We were loaded on a tour bus and driven to the dock in Simpson's lagoon. The Rhino's are a little beat up but all seemed to function just fine. We went out in groups of 7 boats, one of which was the guide. We followed in single file to the north end of Simpson lagoon and then crossed under a bridge to enter the sea. At that point we spread out a little and proceeded north along the coastline, past Marigot, to a beach with no other visitors but nice condos in the immediate vicinity. The boats were quick and a lot of fun. The views were unique and quite memorable. Overall, we had an excellent time. My only complaint was the price: for cruise ship passengers, one boat (two people) is $179.00, if booked independently it is only $84.00. They do not allow independent booking if you are on a cruise ship. Secure storage of personal effects is available at the dock in the form of plastic laundry baskets that they store inside the business while you are away.
Marigot (Tropicana Restaurant: my grade: A+, wife's grade: A++) After we completed the Rhinos, we decided to not take the tour bus back to the ship but instead called a taxi and proceeded to Marigot the long way past Maho beach and Mullet bay. We did not stop at either location but did see the unrepaired damage to the time share condos at Mullet from a hurricane several years ago. Apparently there is ongoing litigation between the time-share patrons and the owner of the property who received the insurance settlement but then refused to repair the damage!!! On our way to Marigot we saw several impressive mansions that our driver claimed belonged to celebrities such as Governor Schwarzenegger and others. Once at Marigot we walked around the Marina and stopped for lunch at the Tropicana restaurant (recommended in another review). The Tropicana was the second culinary highlight of the trip with an A++ special of Tuna and Swordfish (total bill for 2 $41.00 US). After lunch we looked for a taxi, but had difficulty finding one until we went over to the straw market on the seaside.
Orient Beach We then went to Orient Beach where we were greeted not by beautiful naked French girls but by a rainstorm. The rain cleared after about an hour and we walked down to Club Orient and then back to our starting point (rain was again threatining). We hailed another cab (actually a private car posing as a cab) for the ride back to the dock. We liked Orient but do not have much to say since our time there was limited.
Princess Cays We were in line for tender tickets at 8:15am and went over on the second boat. Shaded chairs were plentiful at that time and we enjoyed both the beach and the nice BBQ lunch (long lines around noon, and also longer lines on the right side as you are standing on the beach facing the sea). Our last activity was a much better than expected snorkeling adventure on the right side of the beach near the jetty with the covered gazebo. Fish were plentiful and there were many sizes and varieties.
Weather & Seas Seas were calm and we had only two short lived rainstorms.
Selling Pressure on the Ship They obviously want to sell pictures, various trinkets, bottled water in the staterooms, and after dinner drinks (a special waiter comes around everyday during dessert and asks if you would like an after dinner liqueur in a special glass). I have little tolerance for sales pitches and found these to be non-intrusive and easy to ignore/decline.
Obstreperous Children Generally none. A few ill-timed cannonballs into the pool here and there.
Crowds The only crowds we encountered were in the buffets on the first and last days. In our opinion, crowding was definitely not a problem.
Sabatini's Reservations We arrived at Sabatini's at 1:00 to make our reservation for Monday night (they do not take phone reservations until after 5:00). The line was already long and agonizingly slow moving. The two employees were confused and were telling people different things with respect to whether or not Sterling steakhouse reservations could be made at the same time. Our complaint was that the employees made no effort to find out what should have been happening.
OVERALL GRADE: my grade: A, wife's grade: A
Any prolems I have mentioned above were small and overall insignificant. We had a fabulous time and would sail on this ship again in a hearbeat
My husband (11 cruises) and I (16 cruises) took our 17 year old daughter on her 3rd cruise as a high school graduation gift. First and foremost, we thank our Master Cruise Counselor, Ben Shapiro at Galaxsea Cruises through Dolphin Travel in Grand Rapids Michigan for putting together another flawless vacation for us. Ben is#1 in our hearts and never leads us to anything but wonderful cruise experiences.
After uneventful flights on Northwest Airline, my daughter Katy and I spent 3 wonderful nights in the Embassy Suites in Fort Lauderdale. We booked through Priceline.com for $55.00 a night. The price included transportation from the airport (5 minutes), to the pier (3 minutes) as well as a large breakfast buffet that rivaled our cruise ship buffet breakfasts and a 2 hour nightly happy hour. There were many stores and restaurants in the walking area and as our suite included both a refrigerator and microwave, we were set to eat a few meals in our room. My husband arrived the night before our cruise and the hotel was swamped with late arrivals, so, they told him to take a cab and they paid forit when he arrived. I can't imagine a nicer place to stay for such a reasonable rate. Our rooms were clean and tidy and we enjoyed being able to use their wonderful pool with a breathtaking waterfall and hot tub as well as the hotel restaurant and gift shop. On Saturday morning we could see our ship right outside the hotel. We will definitely stay there again. We were able to meet with several friends we met on the internet at one happy hour but unfortunately slept through the planned get together on embarkation afternoon and never were able to catch up with the group again.
We had express check-in at the pier and arrived by hotel shuttle at 11:30. We had no problem bringing on 2- 12 packs of pop for our cabin. By noon we were in our cabin #R712 and on our way to lunch. I would not suggest our cabin or any cabin near it. We chose it for the closeness to the back pool and buffet area and for that, it served its purpose. Unfortunately, I don't know what kind of activity they were running all night long on the deck above us, but, it was by far the noisiest cabin we have ever had. It was a nicely appointed Princess cabin with everything in its place, making for easy movement for 3 in a cabin. There were over 600 children on this voyage and this was the very first time I was ever really bothered by the little dears.
Entertainment was ok - nothing to write home about and brag, but enjoyable.
We do not gamble, but had to go through the casino several times and it was always surprisingly empty.
I enjoyed the afternoon movies several times. It was a nice relief from the summer heat.
The food was Princess wonderful, but, both my husband and I agreed that we liked Carnival just a tad better.
The pools were always open and clean and it seemed that for the most part the adult only rules were enforced.
The back hot tub never really worked right and was quite cool.
We had #1 service all through the ship and enjoyed our wait staff Albert and Dennis as well as our cabin steward Diamond who made sure that my husband's birthday and daughter's graduation were celebrated with balloons on the door and a cake on the last formal night.
Our cabin although noisy was set up so very nicely that when the three of us were all in the room, there was always room for us to roam, well, except for that teeny, tiny, little, bitty shower..
The ship itself is breathtakingly beautiful. It was spotlessly clean and in well repair.
The jumbotron screen at the pool was ok..you did get a nice cushioned lounge chair and popcorn, but I thought the picture was grainy.
We enjoyed an island tour given by Carr an independent tour guide that we met outside the ship. For $20.00 a person he took us all over the island in his open air truck/tour trolley and stopped for pictures and shopping at all the high points. We have been to the island and I have to say that this was by far one of the nicest tours we have taken.
At St. Martin we docked at the new pier and decided to take in the sites at the pier. There was water and land taxi service, but it was so terribly hot that we just decided to beat the heat at the pool.
Princess Cay as always was beautiful and we enjoyed the cool water and buffet on the beach. I am so glad that it is now almost entirely handicap accessible. What a great experience. The snorkeling was great with lots of fish.
Because we are platinum members at Princess we did have unlimited free internet access. This was heaven sent for our teenager who left her boyfriend at home. It was nice to keep up with the gossip at home once a day.
The ship was decorated wonderfully for American Independence Day which fell on the first formal night. Princess did do a wonderful job making you glad to be an American.
Debarkation was quick and painless. There was a special area set up for platinum guests, but, we did not even get there. Our color was called while we were still eating breakfast and by the time we finished and got our luggage we nabbed a taxi and were checking in at the airport.
After a few more uneventful flights on Northwest, we were home right on time. Onward to the Golden Princes to the southern Caribbean in October and then the Carnival Spirit to the Mexican Riviera in Feb of 2005.
We took the Eastern Caribbean and visited St. Thomas, St. Maarten & Princess Cays from 5/22/04 to 5/29/04. This was our 1st cruise with Princess, but our 7th overall (5 Carnival & 1 RCL).
Embarkation: We flew into Ft. Lauderdale. When we picked up our luggage, there were plenty of cruise reps to guide us. We then took the bus from the airport to the cruise terminal. At the terminal, Princess has made this very efficient. You stand in line by your cabin deck. It took about 15 minutes to get thru the line & on the ship. This was the easiest embarkation we've ever had.
Ship: The ship was absolutely beautiful! Even though there are over 3000 people, it never seemed crowded. There was no shortage of chairs by the pools. The movie under the stars was awesome. We suggest planning on doing this one night.
Dining: The food was awesome! We really enjoyed the Caribe buffet on sushi and seafood extravaganza nights (there were 2 of each). We chose traditional dining. We really enjoy having the same waiter & asst. waiter each night. Whenever we wanted food, we could find somesomewhere, there is no shortage of food on this ship. We each got the Coke card for this cruise. It was well worth the cost.
Cabin: We originally booked an oceanview cabin, but were upgraded to a balcony on the Baja deck. Our balcony was completely covered. It had 2 sitting chairs & a table. We talked our room steward into exchanging a sitting chair for a lounge chair on the balcony for us. Our room had plenty of storage. The suitcases slid under the bed.
Itinerary: St. Thomas - For starters we did the St. Thomas Skyride. It was within walking distance of the ship (about 5 mins) and was well worth doing. Our excursion in the afternoon was snorkeling, New Waves Castaway Snorkeling. You get right off the ship onto the snorkeling boat. We really enjoyed it.
St. Maarten - We did the Afternoon Beach Bash. We took a bus to the Orient Beach. It was set up really nicely and was just a relaxing afternoon in the sun. We highly recommend this excursion.
Princess Cays - This is the private island. We just swam and relaxed. They had a BBQ lunch set up. There are plenty of chairs for everyone and plenty to do. We needed no money for this port.
Service: Our room steward, Cesar, was great. He always came and went without disturbing us. We really appreciated everything he did. Our waiter, Eduardo and asst. waiter, Levi, were great. They always chatted with us about our day and were a pleasure. They made sure we were taken care of. At the pool bar, the bartender, Joey, always knew we wanted Sprite. It was a pleasure seeing him. On another note, all staff was very friendly and always said HI when passing in the hall.
We are in our early 30's and love cruising. We really enjoyed this cruise and we will definately take another Princess cruise in the future.
Another wonderful cruise aboard Princess, this time the Caribbean Princess on an Eastern Caribbean itinerary.
We arrived Friday night and stayed at the Comfort Inn Cruiseport - Airport South, on Stirling Road in Hollywood, FL. The room was clean and comfortable, with shuttles both from the airport and to all the cruise ports.
We surrendered our two checked bags to the porters and got in line at 11:00 AM. The terminal doors opened at 11:30 and we went to the Caribe check-in line. Even though we had all our papers filled out on-line, the Express check in line was longer! We quickly moved through the regular line. Then through Security, posed for our embarkation photo, onto the forward gangplank, and up the elevator to check out our room. It was ready for us, we dropped the bags on the bed and stood on our Port side balcony at 11:51 AM. Twenty one minutes after the terminal doors opened and we were all set! We met our room steward, Francisco. He was exceptional all week, whether it was extra ice, towels, robes, he reappeared magically and kept us well stocked.
After a stop atthe Horizon Court buffet, we went to Sabatini's where the Conceriege was set up, to make the week's reservations we wanted, namely "Movies Under the Stars" and Sterling Steakhouse. These filled up very quickly, if you'd like to try any of them, do make plans early on board. The movies were a fun experience and the Sterling Steakhouse was one of the best meals we've ever had, anywhere. The sail away Princess Patter said there would also be a makeover show, "If They Could Sea Me Now", sign-ups were in the Lotus Spa. The cruise was only one week, so Barb thought there wasn't anything they could do for me! Got my Coke sticker, for me it's a good deal. Here, we have to comment on some of the other reviewers notes that they had trouble getting soda with the cards. I never did. I'd just ask the server or bar staff for a large Diet Coke and I got fine service all week. Didn't have to carry my insulated cup around with me, just took my large soda back to the room and refilled the cup regularly. Maybe I just ran into good servers, but all week long, any bar or server filled my order quickly.
Barb is the coffee person in the family, and the Lobby Bar on Deck 5 was the place for her. Servers Maria and Gabi were great all week, the coffee was fresh, and you could self-serve the regular coffee and go, or have them make up one of their excellent flavored coffees.
Sunday was the first of two straight sea days. There is a 10:00 AM lecture in the Princess Theatre with Cindy, the Port and Shopping Advisor, for our stops in St. Thomas and St. Martin. It was also rebroadcast over the TV, but since this was our first time in these ports we found it informational. The street maps furnished in the "All Ashore" flyer before each port were helpful in getting around, finding taxi stands and locating sights we wanted to see. As before, we knew the Princess "preferred" shops were being pushed, but our yellow highlighter marked up the maps enough for us to find pretty much everything we wanted.
We have to mention one store here. In Phillipsburg, St. Martin, on Old Street is a shop called "Island Arts of the Yoda Guy." It's owned by Nick Maley, the artist/creator of the Yoda character in the "Star Wars" films. He commutes between here and Antigua, and has unique memorbilia and his own original artwork and prints at very affordable prices. We got an autographed photo of Nick working on Yoda on the set of "Star Wars" and he personalized it for one of our grandsons' who is a huge "Star Wars" fan.
Also on Sunday is the first Art Auction of the cruise. We found it to be a fun way to relax and learn a little about various artists. We had read the pro and con arguments of cruise lines holding art auctions, but they don't last all day, it's just another offering on their plate. Later in the cruise we bid on one painting we liked and can't wait for it to arrive.
We chose Personal Choice dining in the Coral Dining Room and enjoyed our dinners there. If we went at a very busy time, we might have to wait for a table for two, but it gave us a flexible schedule where we didn't HAVE to be at dinner right at a certain time. Our wait staff, Sandro and Maria, both from Mexico were very pleasant, remembering our names and drink preferences.
We took one tour in each port. On St. Thomas we did the "Best of St. Thomas Island Tour," an open air bus up and down the very steep roads on the island. Our tour guide, Harold Rabasset, or "Panhandler" as he was known locally, was fun and took pride in showing off the sights of Megan's Bay, St. Peter Greathouse and Botanical Gardens, Mountain Top and literally birds-eye views of Charlotte Amalie harbor, with all the cruise ships docked in port. A view not to be missed.
On St. Martin, we took the "Under Two Flags" tour, an air-conditioned bus, with Eram as our guide, from the dock through Phillipsburg, around Cole Bay to the French town of Marigot. Here the tour stops at an open air market square with tents set up for souvenier shopping. We wandered through the tents but on the street, behind the bus parking lot, found the La Vien Rose Cafe. They have tables and chairs under red umbrellas and serve the best coffee, espresso and cafe au lait. There's seating for breakfast, lunch and dinner upstairs. Barb got her caffeine fix and we relaxed and watched the comings and goings in town. It's only a 45-minute stop, so we're going back by taxi next time and exploring the shops and dining places. Back on tour we went by Grand Case with it's beach and fishing village. Our guide told us there's 136 restaurants in this small town. Evidently nobody cooks at home! On past Orient Beach and Dawn Beach, and past the remains of a village that had to be moved a few years ago, due to changing tides. It looked familiar as Eram pointed out that the former village was used in the final scene of the movie "Speed 2" where the "out-of-control" cruise ship crashed right up the main street. Back into Phillipsburg, where you could get off the bus for shopping or stay on and Eram would return you to the dock. We got off, wandered around, bartered here and there, before taking the water taxi ($3 per person, one way) back to the cruise ship dock.
One note here about each island. Our Caribe cabin was on the port side of the ship and directly faced each harbor. Beautiful views sailing into and out of each port.
We passed on going ashore at Princess Cay. We've been there before and opted this time to stay on board and enjoy the ship and our balcony as our cruise neared it's end. We spoke with a staff member who had tender duty that morning, and 2300 people had tendered ashore by 11:00 AM to enjoy the beach and sea.
During the cruise, there were always fun shows to see, some better than others, everyone has there personal preferences. Some good specialty games, The Marriage Game, the Princess Price Is Almost Right game, dicey horse racing, trivia, bingo, etc... The "Princess Idol" tryout shows were fun, when the singers were good, it was enjoyable...when it was bad, it was great! Hey, it's a cruise, do as much or as little as you want.
We liked the Caribbean Princess a lot. The crew seemed to be working well together in most places. There were new ports to explore, so we enjoyed them and especially enjoyed the sea days. For us it was just right.
The new Caribbean Princess is well worth sailing on! We would go again in a minute!
We sailed on a seven-day Eastern Caribbean cruise, visiting St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Princess Cays.
Princess has this down to a science. We arrived at Port Everglades Cruise Terminal 2 at 1 p.m. and were on board by 1:15. HINT: Complete the pre-boarding paperwork online and save time during embarkation. Check your pre-cruise documents and www.princess.com for details. This is well worth doing in advance, as you can then speed through embarkation. When your documents arrive in the mail, they will have a sticker that indicates "Express Check-In" and you can then use the special lines set up for "Express Check-In" passengers.
In a word, beautiful! Although the ship holds 3,100 passengers, they have designed it with passengers in mind, because you never feel crowded! In my opinion, the highlights are:
1. "Movies under the Stars," an outdoor 300-sq. ft. LED movie screen (like in NY's Times Square) that shows movies and other things like concerts and sporting events (we saw Tina Turner's 24/7 Concert).
2. The Lotus Spa and Gymnasium, a beautiful complex on Deck 16 atthe front of the ship overlooking the ocean. I use the treadmills every day on a cruise, and this is the first ship where I NEVER had to wait for one. It has about 20 of them, along with a full range of other cardio machines (e.g. Stairmasters) and a full selection of weight machines. The spa is beautiful and is operated by Princess, not an outsourced company. The personnel are friendly and the massages are terrific. And there's no sales pressure to buy their products (in fact, no sales pitch at all). HINT: For best selection, book your spa treatments online, before you board. Check www.princess.com for details.
3. Princess Theater, with great views no matter where you sit. We always sat in the last few rows of the balcony, and still had good sight lines. The shows were good, and the selection varied each night.
4. Internet Café, with easy-to-use PC's (just run your guest card through the card reader) – I never had a wait, although sometimes the response time was slow due to satellite transmission, I guess.
5. Outdoor areas. Spacious pool areas (5 pools!) were busy but never seemed crowded. The great promenade deck was never crowded, and is a great place to sit and read.
We selected Personal Choice Anytime Dining and could not have been happier. I had read some reviews where some people had problems, e.g. long waits. We had no problems whatsoever! HINT: When you get on board, immediately make specialty dining reservations. If you want a reservation for Sabatini's Italian Restaurant or Sterling Steakhouse, go there as soon as you board to make reservations. Also, if you want to eat in a main dining room, call the Concierge line (on your cabin phone) and make a reservation several hours before dinner (we called each morning). By following these methods, we were able to eat where and when we wanted...with no problems at all.
A few nights we ate at Horizon Court/Café Caribe (they are connected). They serve the same food at dinner as the main dining rooms, although it is buffet style. The food was good, but the service was only fair and this is an area that could be improved. We never bring formal attire on a cruise because we don't like to get dressed up on vacation...so this is an informal alternative dining venue if you want to leave the nice clothes at home!
There's great pizza outside on Deck 15; we often had lunch there (OK, so we went to the Horizon Court buffet right afterwards too...it is a cruise, after all). They serve burgers outside too, which were OK but not as good as the pizza.
We ordered room service breakfast every day by filling out the card and hanging it on the door the night before. It was always on time (sometimes early) and good!
We were very fortunate to have Emilio as our room steward -- one of the best cabin stewards ever!
We splurged and chose a mini-suite for this cruise after having booked one on the Grand Princess a few years ago. It was a very spacious cabin, with a sitting area (full-size couch), two TVs and a bath with a full-size tub, as well as a great balcony with a table and two chairs.
The balconies on this ship are built in wedding-cake fashion, and the mini-suites are at the bottom...meaning that the balconies above can look down on yours. We noticed that most of the time, people were not on the balconies above, and we did not feel like our privacy was being invaded even when they were outside. So the question becomes, should you trade balcony privacy for a nicer cabin? Our answer is to go for the nicer cabin...we would absolutely book a mini-suite again! We spent a lot of time on the balcony, especially in the late afternoon and early evening when we would have a few cocktails there. Great sunsets...don't miss them! I noticed too that some mini-suites are cheaper than regular balcony cabins, so check pricing and you may be surprised! HINT: If you want to remove a chair from the balcony and add a chaise lounge instead, just ask your room steward!
There were three sea days, which is great! We had full days in St. Thomas and St. Maarten (go on the America's Cup Sail in St. Maarten -- it is a lot of fun). We called at Princess Cays on the last full day of the cruise and it's nice to just relax and wander on the island. There's a good BBQ buffet at lunch there too.
Without a doubt, excellent, even considering the below-average service we had in the Horizon Café. Princess employees were always professional, friendly, kind and helpful. This is quite a tribute to the staff, especially considering that the crew had been together for only about a month!
In Summary: We would sail Princess again, and would not hesitate to take another cruise on the Caribbean Princess.
BIO / CRUISE
This was our third cruise and the first with the Princess line. Our group consisted of 7 people, me and my wife, my brother and sister and their spouses, and the real Princess and birthday girl, our 87 year(young) mother. With the exception of my 45 year old sister-in-law, we are all in our mid to late fifties. We sailed out of Fort Lauderdale from Philadelphia. Ports of call were Princess Cays, Montego Bay, Jamaica, Grand Cayman Islands and Cozumel, Mexico.
Since the airport is only 10-15 minutes from the ship, we suggest you take a cab or a van. The Princess bus transfer, which we were told not to take but did anyway, took over one and a half hours. Live and learn. Princess does a great job with registration. We suggest you get into the shortest line even though the lines are identified by deck.
We had a balcony on the Aloha deck on the 12th floor, and it was great. Plenty of storage room and it was quiet all week. You may want to check to make sure you are not below the night club since weheard that could be noisy. We suggest you pack a night light since the room does get dark. Having your morning coffee on the balcony is a must! Also, you may want to try sleeping a few nights with the sliding doors open to hear the sound of the Caribbean Sea, it's a great experience. Once you have a balcony deck, it will be difficult to book future cruises without one.
Maybe its our Italian heritage but quality food is important to us. We were not disappointed. We selected the personal choice dining but did a "work around" by making a standard dinner reservation at the Island Dining room for the entire week with the exception of the two nights at the specialty restaurants. This was done on our first day. We never had a problem all week and our table was always waiting for us. Since our group preferred sit down service to cafeteria style, we enjoyed breakfast in the Coral Dining Room. Cruisers with children and on tight schedules may prefer the Horizon Court and Café Caribe on deck 15. Our two best meals were at the specialty restaurants, Sabatini's and the Sterling Steakhouse, both on deck 7. Even though it costs $15-$20 more per person , treat yourself, its well worth it. Just buy one less Tee shirt.
Sabatini's is a wonderfully delicious 5 course meal with 5 different waiters serving the 7 of us.
The meal at Sterling Steakhouse was equally as good. If you are only selecting one of the two, my choice would be Sabatini's. We suggest you call the Concierge on your first day to set up all your reservations for the week since they do fill up quickly.
Trident Grill located around the pool had great thin crust pizza in addition to the usal burgers, hot dogs and fries. The pizza however baked daily, is the main attraction.
You won't starve on this ship between the 24 hour room service and the food available at the Horizon court, Café Caribe and the Bistro.
In order to see as much as possible, you need to check the daily Princess Patter for a schedule of activities, and plan accordingly. Movies under the Stars was enjoyable especially with the free popcorn and blankets provided.
Here is our review of the entertainment:
Fernandez the comedy/ hypnotist was our favorite attraction. He hypnotizes 15-20 volunteers from the audience and makes them do some hilarious things. The audience was hysterical. In fact we caught his Jerry Springer routine as well on another night.
Bert Stratton the piano player/singer is also a "must see", he is in the Crooners lounge.
James Michael has a high energy comedy/magic act that is very entertaining
Mike Wilson, a comedy impressionist was also very good.
Sarge, a comedian put on a good show.
The Broadway show, Let's Rock, was a high energy production with a young group of singers and dancers. I found it to be only average.
Brandi Chapman, a female vocalist only appeared on our last night and she was terrific, singing Oscar award winning songs. What a great voice!
For the younger crowd there was plenty of after hours partying going on at the Sky Walkers lounge on deck 19.
My wife enjoyed her body massage and we even got Mom an eye facial although she questioned what it could do for her at this stage of her life.
PORTS OF CALL
Princess Cays - this is Princess's private island where you get a tender to their beach. We had a great day and rented paddle boats, rafts and even went sailing on a Hobie cat. Lunch was a nice barbecue.
Montego Bay - we took the Wet N Wild party cruise and were disappointed. The boat was old, small and dirty. Once we got off at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, we decided to stay there, have lunch and not return on the boat. Lunch was a little expensive but we enjoyed it. We took a cab back to the ship.
Grand Cayman Islands - since we previously visited this island we just did some shopping. Of course my wife did buy a ring.
Cozumel Mexico - We booked the Passion Island beach tour which was fun. It's a 5 four tour with 3 hours of actual beach time. Our tour guide Octavio was excellent. The beach and water were beautiful. Trip included lunch and an open bar.
Princess does a superior job. Very organized with little waiting.
We had a great vacation and made a lifetime of memories. The ship is beautiful, great food and service, plenty of swimming pools a wide variety of entertainment, a casino for my brother-in-law and much more. Since I am a sports fanatic, my only disappointment was the lack of a true sports bar with American ESPN, Spanish ESPN just didn't cut it for me. The Churchill Lounge is only a cigar bar, although they call it a sports bar. Other cruise ships also offer an Internet version of the USA newspaper at a daily rate, which Princess did not. Other then that, I had no complaints. We would book another Princess cruise in a "New York minute."
We were passengers on the third scheduled cruise, April 17-24, 2004, of the new Caribbean Princess, the second of three new Princess ships being introduced. Our cruise was to the Western Caribbean with stops at Princess cays, Montego Bay, Grand Cayman and Cozumel with two sea days. We selected the cruise because of the ship.new and big! We were not disappointed. Will give some highlights of the ship and cruise as well as some hints for those who may be considering the Caribbean Princess.
The ship is big; 112,000 to 116,000 tons depending on what you hear. The captains log listed 112,000. It accommodates 3000 to 3500 passengers which results in a little bigger than normal crowds at some venues but is NOT anything to be concerned about. It is very nicely decorated with lots of Caribbean pastel colors as well as chrome and brass , has an elegant atrium with a light color scheme, and dozens of places to go on the ship, all giving a feeling of being relatively small and intimate. The ship had the fastest elevators of any ship we had ever been on which reminded usof the elevators in Las Vegas casinos.a real plus if you have waited for the slow elevators on many cruise ships. There are a lot of balconies.
HINT: The balconies on the Caribe deck are bigger than the balconies on many decks.
The ship was new but the crew was experienced. We were a little concerned about a new crew when we booked the cruise. Several crew members had transferred from other Princess ships along with others who came from other cruise lines. We even recognized a couple from other ships we had been on. Service was excellent everywhere, especially in the dining rooms.
We selected traditional dining which meant assigned seating for all dinners. There were A LOT of dining options including personal choice dining in one of the three main dining rooms. ( Someone told us that the personal choice dining was so popular that the dining rooms were going to be shifted to accommodate more for personal dining on the next cruise). The buffets ( There were two) were very good. The lines were crowded the first afternoon due to the large number of people and the traffic pattern which was a little different. Open seatings for breakfast and lunch in the Coral Dining room was easy..no lines and no wait. Interestingly, the attendance in the main dining rooms was far less that capacity.probable due to the number of choices: At least two special rooms ( with a cover charge), pizza, grill and two buffets as well as the three dining rooms. All the restaurants were nicely decorated and offered a very pleasant atmosphere.
The food was very good highlighted by lobster night. We thought the selections in the dining rooms where we eat most meals were excellent. The dining room menus featured a wide selection of international foods that were interesting and delicious. The buffet also had a nice selection. Pizza, compared to other ship experiences, was excellent. I like ice cream ( splurge on cruises) and they had some macadamia nut that was special. Food rating.High.
HINT: We tried the Steakhouse, with a $15 cover charge. The steaks were very good but the rest of the meal and the setting were nothing really special. Service was excellent.
Shops on the ship were nice. A good selection of both shops and goods. We made several purchases. The casino was large and well done. ( didn't win). Neither the shops nor the casino were crowded even though there were over 3000 people on board. The showroom, however, was standing room only a couple of times. ( The Caribbean Princess does repeat some shows on a second night so there are four opportunities to see the show). Lounge entertainment was good. ( Lots of lounges)
The ports were the standard ones for the Western Caribbean.
HINT: Be sure to get off the ship at the Princess Cays. The facilities on the island are very nice, including sheltered areas if you don't like the sun and lots of beach for those who do. The scenery and view to the ship from the island are worth a photo. They also had a nice barbecue with good food.
We tried the river rafting at Montego Bay, a nice relaxing ride down a river ( shallow in most areas) on a bamboo raft with interesting scenery along the way. It was followed up with a talk on local produce, instructions on making rum drinks, a jitney ( jitney is a wagon with seats pulled by a tractor) ride to a banana plantation where we were fascinated by a description of banana growth and uses, a lunch, and coconut palm climber. We then went downtown.
HINT: Downtown was neither a place to go nor shop. It could use a lot of development which is unfortunate for the local people.
Grand Cayman was very crowded the day we were there. Tenders are required and the docks were filled with passengers from all the ships, many looking for their tour groups which met on shore. We tried the underwater viewing boat which is a good opportunity to see marine life just below the surface. Grand Cayman is well developed, has a lot of shops and good buying opportunities.
The last stop was Cozumel, with a visit to Tulum probably the biggest attraction. Tulum is well worth a visit if you have interest in the Mayans. Shopping in Cozumel is also very good.
HINT: A shopping area right at the pier has been completed in the last few years. It is clean, safe, and has many shops including duplicates of those downtown. Provides a chance to shop if the tour runs long.
Getting on and off the ship is worth a couple of notes. Getting on ( embarking for the sailors) was a little confusing with express and regular lines. Express was for those who registered on line.and had "express" on their ticket covers. ( we registered on line but had no sticker). Boarding started right at noon and we were in the initial large group so maybe that's why things were confusing. Didn't seem to make a any difference because no one was there to give directions..probably our only real complaint with the cruise. Getting off was very predictable and easy..remember, we had over 3000 passengers.
A couple of other hints..
HINT: There is a parking garage right at the ship, maybe the closest we have ever parked to our ship BUT there is a least one other garage and it not hard to end up in the wrong garage..and it is an impossible walk.
HINT: Booking another Princess cruise on the ship will get you some shipboard credit for your next Princess cruise and the down payment is much less than you would normally pay. The risk is also low: You can change your itinerary and date and are given quite a long time to book ( four years in our case).and you still use your travel agent ( who may be able to better the rates quoted). We had researched future princess cruises and were prepared to take advantage of the nice offer.
SUMMARY: Big, beautiful and new ship with a lot of modern amenities sailing to the Caribbean. We had another very, very nice travel vacation.
My 55-year-old husband and I (53) celebrated our 35th anniversary by taking our first cruise, and chose to sail on the new Caribbean Princess to the Western Caribbean. This was only the second sailing of this beautiful ship. We sailed out of Ft. Lauderdale after flying down from Baltimore. Scheduled ports of call were Princess Cay, Montego Bay, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel.
Even though it was Easter weekend and there were crowds, embarkation went without a hitch and very little waiting in line. We had a Princess bus transfer waiting for us from the airport to the dock, which went smoothly.
We had a deluxe balcony stateroom on the Deck 15 (Lido deck), and it was lovely. We heard no noise. There was plenty of water pressure in bathroom. Our stateroom was roomy with plenty of storage in a separate closet, enclosed shelving area (with safe), and bedside drawers and desk. There were lots of wall mirrors and the décor had lovely color choices throughout. The cabin had a small refrigerator/bar/TV stand, a desk, and sliding doors to our nice-sized balcony with table and chairs (plastic).
The food was plentiful and I'd giveit four stars. The Horizon Buffet and Caribe Cafe were going day and night with all kinds of goodies to tempt all palates -- vegetarian, meat lovers, sweet tooth, lots of fresh fruit etc. The coffee and tea could be better. Our dinner was in the Palm Dining Room on the aft Deck 6, which was a challenge to get to -- one must go up and down to reach it from the forward end due to the open atrium in the middle. The food there was plentiful and they aimed to please, allowing you to order whatever you wanted, even off the menu. Our only complaint: It took too long to be served the main course each time we were there, but if you want leisurely dinner conversation with your tablemates, this is okay.
The pool area had a pizza oven that served great thin crust pizza, and also a sandwich grill for fries, burgers, etc. You could pay extra to eat in the special steak house (the Palm Room steak was excellent), Italian restaurant, and one other. We were more than happy with the "included" food.
The new "Movies under the Stars" is fantastic! The ship has a three-tiered outdoor movie theater with deck chairs under the stars. Sound and picture were great.
My husband's favorite entertainment was Bert Stratton, a piano player/singer who did requests on the atrium promenade deck. You can go to his web site using just his name. He was able to play spontaneously all types of music from the 20s to contemporary. He was a mix of Jim Carrey (antics and faces), Victor Borge (humor and wit), and Lurch. He was very entertaining and engaging, bringing his intimate audience right into the show and "whipping us into a frenzy." Don't miss him.
We loved dancing in the Fusion room to the bands, also in the Explorer Lounge, and on Deck 15 to the Caribbean band. All were great. We did not catch any of the shows in the Princess Theater. Richard Hatch of "Survivor" was there for a talk. There were also "Broadway-style shows" with singing and dancing. It was my understanding that all the props could not be obtained when we missed our port in Grand Cayman, so this was a limited show.
We were plenty busy! We played bingo and my husband won part of a $200 pot. He played in the casino a little, but we aren't big gamblers. It looked like a great casino with lots of nickel and quarter machines as well as $1 and up.
My husband took advantage of the running track, which made him dizzy because 10 times around equals one mile and he runs about four miles. The workout room has lots of equipment and beautiful views of the sea. The new Lotus Spa offers a beauty shop, massage, and facials. My husband won a free makeover, which was filmed and shown on the TVs on board. That was fun.
PORTS OF CALL
Princess Cay: This is Princess' private island and is very nice. We enjoyed the water sports and swimming, and they served a nice barbecue to everyone under pavilions on the beach. There are local craftsmen there selling baskets, trinkets, hats and clothing. "Princess Pirates" in full costume meet you for pictures.
Montego Bay, Jamaica: This was a disappointment, but was not without merit. Tenders are needed to get to shore. The cab drivers are everywhere and relentless in trying to procure you as a customer, as are the shop owners -- much pressure, little relaxation. The port is depressed looking and sad. We visited a small shopping center and bought T-shirts, then went to Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville ($4 cab fee each) and had lunch overlooking ocean. My husband went down the large tube slide into the water (no cost). A hamburger is $8. I think we would skip this port and enjoy the ship next time.
Grand Cayman Island: Unfortunately, because of high seas, the port authority closed this port to all cruise ships and we had to skip it. I understand it is the most beautiful.
Cozumel, Mexico: My favorite! The ship lands directly at a dock, no tenders. Lots of colorfully costumed people greet you for pictures or just to enjoy. You exit the dock through a large duty-free shopping center (vanilla, alcohol, jewelry, etc.) into the local shopping center with lots of jewelry, handicrafts, T-shirts, etc., at good prices. The water is beautiful; it's very picturesque.
We took the catamaran snorkeling excursion to two coral reefs and it was fantastic! We went in a large, covered catamaran seating 50, with bathrooms. We saw beautiful seas, underwater coral gardens, colorful fish, and sea turtles. It's several hours out, so wear a shirt or sun block! On the ride back, the crew serves both alcoholic and soft drinks and fruit. They were great. It cost us about $50 each for this Princess tour. We took photos with an underwater camera and hope they turn out.
This went very smoothly with little waiting. Again our Princess bus transfer brought us straight to the airport from the dock.
We loved this cruise and found the ship to be beautiful with a crew that pampers you. Montego Bay was a disappointment, and we were sorry we could not see beautiful Grand Cayman, but safety comes first. The price was fair, at $897 each for a lovely new ship and a cabin with a balcony for seven days. Onboard ship activities were wonderful. We want to go again!
We were on the Maiden Voyage of the Caribbean Princess, which happened to also be during "Spring Break" (so there were way too many children in adult areas). Having been on the Grand Princess and found everything superior we were somewhat disappointed but we still enjoyed our voyage and are planning to go again this summer. In spite of some of its "kinks", it still was a wonderful vacation and a great value.
At times, it felt as if the left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing. The Cruise Staff seemed somewhat inexperienced which effected the overall cruise. Compared to the exceptional ability of the Grand Princess staff to engage all the passengers in activities the Caribbean Princess staff lacked luster.
The food was good but nothing spectacular. Although, the pizza by the pool was excellent and as always Princess's homemade ice cream was fabulous. The new arrangement of the Horizon Court with the Caribe Grill just didn't work for us. After shows (late) the shelves were empty with the only option open was to be seated and served at the Bistro. If you only wanted a "snack" itwas somewhat annoying.
The ship is magnificent without a doubt. The Movies Under the Stars was a nice touch. The band that played by the pool and at various other times during the cruise (the name escapes me at the moment) was fabulous as was the solo artist who also performed by the pool! THEY had a wonderful way of getting the passengers to participate and livened up the cruise. All other entertainment was excellent, especially Bert and his Piano!
Personal Choice dining is a plus. We ate very late and never had any difficulty getting a table for two. Service was always quite good. The food, while certainly good, was not as superior as on the Grand Princess.
Embarkment and Disembarkment was a breeze. Princess certainly has the process down to a science. The room was just fine, clean (well new!)the room steward while good missed a few of the little niceties that we expected based upon our voyage on the Grand Princess.
I am sure part of our disappointment was due to its being its Maiden voyage and that by August when we sail again it will have improved to the true Princess standards. I'll let you know!
P.S. When traveling with children, please remember some of the passengers have left their own children at home to have an "adult" vacation. While we expect their to be children, there are areas for adults only and since the crew does not enforce this is is up to the passengers to over see their children. Thanks!