I have posted a series of reviews with pictures of the Caribbean Princess on the Chit Chat board, but I thought I should post them over here too, since it is more specifically a "Princess" board.
Here is Part 1, with more to follow:
Caribbean Princess, Part 1
Saturday April 19/08 Pre- Cruise
Once again, we planned to arrive in Ft. Lauderdale a day early, so as to relax after a long flight, and get acclimatized to the change in weather.
We arrived mid-afternoon at our hotel, the Ramada Inn near the cruise port.
The hotel had a beautiful garden and pool area, with a nice tropical atmosphere, lots of greenery, flowers, and at night, all lit up with coloured lights.
While checking in, we met another couple from Canada, who were also going on the Caribbean Princess the next day.
As soon as we had settled in, we booked a tour through the front desk, reserving a taxi-van to pick us up at 5:00 and take us to the Jungle Queen.
The cost, there and back, with our private chauffeur was $45.
We had taken the Jungle Queen Dinner Cruise 2 years ago when in Ft. Lauderdale, and were anxious to repeat it.
The sunset cruise down Millionaire's Row on the Intercoastal Waterway, with all the opulent homes and yachts was so interesting, and the continuous info patter and jokes from our M.C. on board made it all the more so.
The cruise ends at a private island, where we were served an excellent all-you-can-eat chicken, ribs and shrimp dinner, topped with chocolate cake for dessert.
This was followed by a Vaudeville-style show in a tiny outdoor theatre, which was quite entertaining.
Afterwards, we boarded the Jungle Queen again for a lovely full - moon-lit cruise back to port, accompanied by the classic crooning of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennet, et al.
A much recommended tour if you're ever in Ft. Lauderdale!
Sunday April 20 Boarding Day!
Spent the morning out by the hotel pool, nice and relaxed, sunning, reading the paper and taking a dip, until it was time to leave on our pre-arranged shuttle bus at 11:30.
While lined up for the shuttle, we met the other Canadian couple again and introduced ourselves. They were Paul and Pauline from Ottawa, the nation's capital, and were very excited about their first ever cruise. Naturally, we had a lot to tell them, and we talked about cruising and the Caribbean Princess throughout the shuttle ride, and during the approximately 45 minute wait in line to board the ship.
Amazingly, we had a lot in common; we were both Canadian, we both had kids the same approximate age, both had daughters named Jessica, and both had beloved Golden Retrievers! Before parting ways, we exchanged cabin numbers and planned to meet for dinner later.
Embarkation procedures were quick and efficient, despite the extra chore of having to fill out an extra form handed to us in line, declaring that we had no symptoms of any gastrointestinal illness. The cruise line is definitely on the offensive to prevent the spread of Norovirus!
Entering the elegant atrium of the Caribbean Princess felt like coming home. It was more beautiful than I'd remembered it, and it felt so good to be back! On our way to find our cabins, we were directed through common areas and lounges filled with art auction samples. The pressure to buy, buy, buy starts as soon as you board!
We found our cabin 704, on Riviera Deck 14, conveniently located right near the elevators, 1 deck down from the Horizon Court Buffet, and several decks directly above the Palm Dining Room.
The cabin was clean, roomy, with sufficient storage space, and best of all, had a lovely balcony!
We deposited our carry-ons and then went directly up to the buffet for lunch. The buffet featured varied choices and everything we tried was excellent. However, shortly after lunch, I suffered several bouts of cramps and diarrhea. I'm still not sure if it was something I ate, or some other unknown reason, but it never came back, so I was happy!
We soon set off on a walking tour of the ship, and somehow got caught up in an official tour of the Lotus Spa, situated Forward on Sun Deck 16.
I had never visited any ship's spa before, so I was duly impressed by the size, openess, and elegance of the facilities. We were shown individual treatment rooms, rainforest showers, sauna rooms with hot stone surfaces, the hairdressing salon, the private hot tub, and of course, the huge gymnasium with all sorts of equipment, including bikes, treadmills, and areas for Aerobics, Yoga and Pilates.
I wanted to sign up for a Pilates class later in the week, but you had to purchase a package of 3 classes for both Yoga or Pilates, and the cost was prohibitive. I found my exercise elsewhere. Speaking of costs, I found all of the Spa treatments extremely expensive, and would not have partaken of any of them, however my darling husband had pre-booked me for a Reflexology treatment later in the week, and I will fill you in on that experience later.
At 4:15 we attended the Muster Drill, this time held in Club Fusion, one of the comfortable, air conditioned lounges on Promenade Deck 7, aft.
This arrangement is much preferable to being herded on deck in front of the lifeboats, in claustrophobic rows in the heat, not to mention the climbing up and down many flights of stairs to get there!
As soon as the Muster Drill was over, we returned our lifejackets to our cabin and headed straight to the Neptune's Reef & Pool for the Ja'maican me Crazy Sailaway Party. One of my fondest memories of my previous Caribbean Princess cruise was the fabulous Sailaway Party, and this time did not disappoint!
The entertainment cruise staff on this ship, although completely new since our last cruise, were in top form, and they hosted a terrific party, with live music, dancing, prizes, drinks, a conga line and lots of fun!
This is where a cruise truly starts for me, having a sailaway drink, dancing and partying with everyone else, relaxing and having fun, anticipating a whole week of the same ahead of you!
Too soon, it was time to get ready for dinner. This time, we had been stuck with "anytime dining", not our first choice, but not the end of the world either. We had heard that the Palm Dining Room was our best bet to avoid the crowds, so that's where we went.
We had arranged for our new Canadian friends Paul and Pauline to join us for our first dinner onboard, and we met them outside the Palm at 6:00pm.
We found the dining room quiet; not very busy, very pleasant and relaxed with unhurried service, and the food was excellent. James enjoyed a lovely pork dish, while I had fine pasta in marinara sauce with grilled chicken. Of course, for dessert I had to have the Princess Love Boat Dream, a decadently delicious chocolate mousse cake in the shape of a heart, served with a dollop of whipped cream. Mmmmmmm!
After dinner, the 4 of us attended the Welcome Aboard show in the Princess Theatre. I was very relieved to see that the dancers and singers were very good, and that the lead singers could actually sing, an improvement over our last experience on Princess!
The show itself was entertaining, the comedian who followed was good (Jeffrey Tag), and we met our very personable Cruise Director, Dan Styne, who like many of the CP staff, hails from Australia.
When the show was over, we headed off to bed at a reasonable hour, after a long, but very enjoyable first day onboard.