I recently returned from a short 4-night cruise aboard CARIBBEAN PRINCESS. It was a repositioning cruise from San Juan to New York. The price could not be beat, and the icing on the cake were all the wonderful upgrades that most passengers received. Not just upgrades within the inside, outside, or balcony categories, but true upgrades from inside to balcony and so forth. The cruise was not full, and I heard we had at least 500 empty cabins on the sailing. This made for a very enjoyable experience as nothing was ever crowded and there were no lines to speak of.
My only real complaint about the entire cruise was embarking in San Juan. They didn't open the doors to the terminal until 12:30pm, which meant many people were waiting (standing) out in the elements in a line that snaked all the way down the front of the terminal and into the street that lead to the terminal. Not a great way to start a cruise, but once inside the check-in process was effortless.
I thought the ship looked great and everything was in working order and in decent condition. I find Princess ships to be a tad bland in the decor department, but they are extremely comfortable. I tried taking pictures of most of the public areas, but to be honest they are not nearly as photogenic as other ships and many of the public areas tend to look alike. They all sort of have the same look. Where the Grand Class ships stand out to me are in two areas. First are the pools. For a ship I think the selection and layout on the Grand Class is exceptional. There are plenty of them and they are fairly large by ship standards. Finding a place to sit in the sun or shade was never a problem on CARIBBEAN PRINCESS. The other area I find very attractive is the Piazza or atrium. It's not too big or too small and Princess has done a great job bringing this space alive with entertainment, music, and food/beverage spaces. It's fun just to hang out in the Piazza and people watch.
My cabin was a standard balcony (A330) and was quite acceptable. While it's missing the small sofa that is found on standard balcony cabins on other ships, it does have a great bathroom/closet arrangement. I love how the closet is basically a walk-in, and the bathroom door leads right into the closet space. This is an excellent arrangement if you have a cabin mate, as you can shower and dress with plenty of space and in complete privacy. Everything in the cabin was in good condition and my cabin steward was excellent. Princess does not have interactive TV's, but they do have decent programming and you can print up your expense statement anytime from one of the folio kiosks located near the Passenger Services Desk.
We did not dine at any speciality restaurants but dinner in the restaurant was quite good. We opted for anytime dining and usually ate around 8:30pm. We never had to wait for a table and always requested a table for two. We were always surprised just how empty the dining room was. I guess this is not abnormal when this ship is short about a thousand passengers. Food quality, presentation, and taste were quite good in my opinion, as was the service. Because the ship was so empty, the waiters had plenty of time to chat and really get to know you. No complaints here. While no meal was what I would call truly exceptional, nothing was poor either. I mainly had lunch in the Horizon Court or Trident Grill. The Grill was pretty good, and I liked that the hamburgers were put on the grill when you ordered them, instead of sitting under a heat lamp like on some lines. The Horizon Court was ok. The layout could use improvement as often it was very crowded in the actual food lines. Mostly this was due to only one side being open due to the low passenger count. The food selection was just ok, and once you left the serving lines there was always a staff member to carry your plate and find you a seat. I thought this was a nice touch.
Entertainment was fine. There was only one production show in four nights which surprised me a little. On my last cruise on Disney they had three very elaborate production shows on a three night cruise! The production show I saw was pretty mediocre. One night there was a hypnotist and he was excellent and very entertaining. The piano player in Crooner's was also quite good. Something I was sorry to see was a DJ playing music by Neptune's Pool instead of a live band. This is something Carnival Cruise Lines has started doing, and unfortunately it has made it's way to Princess. Too bad. This is definitely a cost saving initiative. One other thing that surprised me is that last call in Skywalker's Nightclub happened nightly at about 1am, even though there were still a group of us drinking and dancing in there. I've never had that happen on other cruise lines and there was no where else for us to go for a little nightlife.
There are no ports to speak of on this cruise and weather was generally good. On the last day it was cloudy but it was never cold. Seas were basically calm and the journey up to NY was quite uneventful.
Overall this was really a relaxing and enjoyable cruise. Princess continues to offer a consistently good product that offers a lot of value for the money. I stopped cruising Princess for a while as I've been enjoying other lines. I still give Celebrity the edge overall, but I'm sure I will be back on Princess. I'm just a cruise away from Elite Status so that also gives me some incentive!
A link to some ship pictures are at the top of this review. I hope you enjoy them.
Good morning Ernie & thanks for the write up & pictures (I'll look at the pics later, but the previews bring back good memories).
Just one question, we are planning on travelling on CB next month, and although things might change by then, I wondered if you had the list of officers at hand, as Princess don't appear to publish these other than in the end of cruise log.
Many thanks, again.
Last Cruise: P&O Oriana October 2015
Next: Queen Victoria January 2016
Glad you enjoyed the review. You know I never received an end of cruise log for this sailing. Maybe they didn't do it since it was such a short sailing? Anyway I apologize as I don't have any Officer/Staff names for you.
Great pictures of the ship. We've never sailed the Princess line before but plan to this year (The Grand Princess)...Of course there are photos in Princess brochures but nothing compares to 'real' time pictures. Thanks for sharing