About two months before departure, you should receive a packet from your travel agent that contains the following:
>> Princess's "Cruise Answerbook,"
>> A copy of the Princess Cruises passage contract,
>> A booklet called "How to Make Great Vacation Pictures" that's published jointly by Princess Cruises and Nikin,
>> A booklet about Princess's "Love Boat Care" and "Love Boat Care Gold" travel insurance plans,
>> An "Adventures Ashore" booklet describing the shore excursions for your cruise (which may also cover some other itineraries),
>> A shore excursion order form,
>> A passenger information form (two pages) requesting immigration, emergency contact, and cruise history information,
>> A card containing information on how to contact you aboard ship, and
>> A couple advertising circulars for rental of formalwear and the art auctions aboard ship.
If you have not received this packet and you are within 60 days of sailing, have your travel agent call Princess to inquire about it. You should complete the information forms right away and deliver them to your travel agent for submission to Princess or, alternatively, if you are a repeat passenger, submit the same information via the "Captain's Circle" section of the Princess Cruises web site (http://www.princess.com
). You may also order shore excursions either by returning the order form to your travel agent or via the "Captain's Circle" section of the Princess Cruises web site.
Regarding your question about shore excursions, I have no recommendation at all regarding Sint Maarten as I have not yet been there. On St. Thomas, the "Champagne Catamaran Sailaway to St. John" is a real class act -- and definitely worth every penny of its $96 price tag. The catamaran will pick you up at the cruise ship pier and set sail for a prime secluded beach on St. John. Once there, the crew anchors the catamaran and lowers a set of bow stairs into the water to provide easy entry and exit for swimming and snorkeling. The crew of the catamaran also provides free snorkel lessons and snorkel gear for your use, as there's a reef for snorkeling right near the beach area. While at anchor, they serve a buffet lunch aboard the catamaran. They sail back to the cruise ship pier to arrive around midafternoon -- which allows a couple hours for those who "must" shop in Chalotte Amilie or, alternatively you can return to the ship in time for afternoon tea.. Beverages aboard the catamaran include champagne, rum punch, beer, and sodas, and juices -- and, having taken this excursion twice, I have never seen any beverage come close to running out. I had so much fun the first time that I did this expedition again on my most recent cruise, and will do it yet again when I next return to St. John!
Do have a great cruise!