My wife and I just got back from our first cruise and it was beyond expectations. We are seasoned travellers but not seasoned cruisers. I think it was obvious that we were first timers because we walked around the ship for the first two days with our eyes wide open in disbelief at the grandeur of the ship. The meals were supberb in our opinion. I will try and post more info later but if anyone has any specific questions just let me know. Our ports were Aruba, Caracas, Grenada, Dominica and St. Thomas. I received so much help from this web site before going on our cruise that it is now my turn to answer other peoples questions. I cannot imagine going on the Ocean Princess and not having the time of your life!!!
So glad to hear you and your wife enjoyed your "first" cruise. We too were on Ocean last year and I really fell in love with that ship, she's a beauty. I was really impressed with the food in the dinning room and the service was excellent.
Look forward to hearing all about it. Did you happen to check the morning skit the captain and assistant did every morning, it was soooo funny? Welcome back and wondering if you have the next cruise booked yet?? You may want to check out the Cruisemates Golden Princess New Years crusise, bound to be a great one!
Michael ... We leave for the Ocean Princess 4/22. What shore excursions do you feel to be "can't miss?" I'm concerned about getting off the ship in Caracas. Were you aware of any problems? Which is the best entertainment on the ship for after dinner? What time did you disembark in San Juan? Can't wait to hear more about the trip !!! Thanks for posting your message.
First re your Caracas question.....give it a miss. We decided not to go into Caracas based on all of the bad stuff I read on this web site. Others we talked to on the ship who did go were not impressed. We were told that it was a long and boring busride into Caracas. Someone else told us that during the tour of Caracas that they passed a body dumped in front of a funeral parlour. The day after the ship was there apparentlyh there was trouble in Caracas and the tanks were sent in to quell a wildcat strike....not my idea of a good time. This is all second hand information but if I were you I would treat the Caracas stop as a day at sea. The pace is almost too fast with so many ports of call that a day on ship is well worth it.
Secondly, the on board entertainment. You cannot go wrong with any of the shows, they were all excellent and you can vitually see all of them if you plan your time right. We were at second seating at dinner and would then go to one of the two 10:45 shows, which would run for two nights, so that you could see both of them. The shows would then change and you could start your routine over again.
Thirdly, re disembarkation in San Juan: It depends on flight times, tours etc....but plan for an early get up and breakfast. We were up at 6:45 so that I could check in with American Airlines (who come right on board to check you in). We then had breakfast and were just finishin our coffee when they called our 'colour code' to disembark at about 9
Fourthly, re tours. Tours offered by Princess are somewhat expensive. We only took the Princess tour to the Atlantis submarine tour offered in Aruba and did the other things by ourself. Palm Beach in Aruba was nice. Grand Anse Beach in Grenada was great. Trunk Bay in St. Thomas was great. A private tour to some of the sights in Dominica was also good ($25 each). By the way the sub ride is very interesting but the coral colours are not that great here although the fish are interesting. We have had our perspective of coral and fish colours affected though bty having experienced the Great Barrier Reef...nothing like it.
I just returned from a cruise on the Ocean Princess. I agree, the tour to Caracas was a bust. The bus ride took approximatley one hour. The city is very dirty and trashy. There is a strike within the trash pick-up union and debris is everywhere. There are many shantys on the hillsides. The trip to the Murano glass factory was arduous and you have to endure a treachous mountain road with many curves. I would not go again on this tour. LaGuaria is also very dirty. Most of the folks that I spoke with turned around due the possibility of getting mugged.
Grenada was also a bust. You have to take a tender into the pier. Wait times were very long.
The food and service was excellent. This was my second time with Princess.
Beware of the art auctions. I found that the suggested retail prices quotes were overly inflated. The opening bids seemed to be the average prices in the U.S. on the internet.
Greg, sorry to disagree about Grenada as it was our favourite port. We had no problem at all with the tenders. Maybe something was amiss on your day. We really enjoyed Grand Anse Beach and found that this was our only port with the tender so enjoyed the experience. We totally agree on the Venezuala stop though.
Congratulations on your first cruise, Michael! It's sounds like you had a marvelous vacation.
But, be forewarned... the hook is now set. You, as most of us here on these boards, have now embarked on a journey which will cost you thousands and thousands of dollars. You have become a "cruise-aholic." However, it is one addiction that is NOT hazardous to your health. <grins>
We're headed out Sunday on the Grand Princess on our ninth annual Caribbean cruise.
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Bob "MacTarheel"... hooked in '93 "It's more than a cruise, it's duh LUUUUUUUV boat!
Michael, I had to laugh at your description of yourselves walking around the ship wide-eyed and in awe. You know what is so funny.......I have been on three cruises and have done that everytime. Every cruise feels like "the first one" to me.
Since you are now "hooked", how about joining us CruiseMates for the New Year's Eve cruise on the Golden Princess? It's going to be great.
Mary Lou, thanks for the invite but I am quickly running out of holiday time. My wife and I are off to Tuscany for 3 1/2 weeks in Sept/October. We will have to wait until next March for our next cruise. We are now hooked.
Sorry to hear you can't join the Cruisemates bunch on Golden, but check out the CM net buddies cruises from time to time, could be one that would fit your schedule, you never know?? Just love to hear the stories from returning "first cruisers", expecially on such a nice ship as Ocean, I really loved that ship.
I hit all of three of those ports on a Panama Canal cruise last fall. I have also done quite a few shore excursions of all types, and it pretty much comes down to a question of what YOU enjoy. Princess's shore excursion program is one of the strongest in the industry, so there are not very many "losers" in it. Princess also goes to great pains to make sure that the descriptions really are accurate and to update them as tours get modified, so they are pretty credible -- but do read them carefully and make sure you understand them. Also, believe the icons that indicate the level of physical activity that each excursion entails!
All three of the ports of call that you mentioned have excellent shore excursions.
>> In Aruba, I thoroughly enjoyed the "Catamaran Sail, Snorkel, and Beach Barbecue" -- a great day of "fun in the sun."
>> In Dominica, the "Grand Tour of Dominica" is a winner.
>> In St. Thomas, I highly recommend the "Champagne Catamaran Sailaway to St. John." It's definitely worth every penny of the price. I chose this excursion for the third time just last Friday, and I'm ready to do it again!
We sailed on OP in November, our 5th cruise, 1st on Princess, we really enjoyed it & will definitely sail on Princess again. We did the other itinerary, with Barados, St. Lucia, St. Thomas, St Maarten & St Kitts, - St. Kitts was our favorite, followed by St. Maarten.
My husband and I also just returned home from our Ocean Princess cruise on Sunday, April 9th. We found the entire experience to be abolutely wonderful and felt as though we were treated as royalty. Yes, it is annoying that you have to pay for soda and ice cream, but at least it was canned soda and not diluted from a tank. We ate all meals in the dining room after the first 2 days when we had breakfast and sometines lunch on the Lido Deck. The dining room service is just so much more classy and we loved being waited upon hand and foot. Where else could you get such attentive service? The Cruise Staff is excellent and very approachable. Bingo was fun and all the entertainment was outstanding. We're going to take the ship again in January to either the Mexican Rivera or the alternate
Carribean route. I can't wait!!
Renee-You will love the Mexican Riviera. My wife and I did a Princess Cruise on the Sun Princess in 97'. This cruise was second only to our 2/2001 Southern Caribbean Cruise we just returned from..We did a repositioning cruise (ships are being moved from the Caribbean to Alaska to start the summer cruise season) and caught the ship in Acapulco, Mexico and came North, ending in L.A. Our favorite port was Zehuatenejo. Very laid back and GREAT shopping bargains. Incidentally, the "repositioning cruises" are excellent bargains. I think our was during the first week in May. Weather was great.