Regions:Canada, Caribbean, Europe
Good for: Families. Value for Money. Teens.
Regions:Alaska, California Coastal, Panama Canal
Good for: Teens. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Regions:Caribbean, Europe, South America
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Asia & Africa, Australia, Europe
Good for: Group. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Regions:Alaska, Asia & Africa, Australia
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Seniors.
Regions:Canada, Caribbean, Europe
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Group.
Regions:Alaska, California, Hawaii
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Group.
Regions:Alaska, California, Hawaii, Mexico
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Alaska, California, Panama Canal
Good for: Seniors. Group. Singles.
Regions:Asia & Africa, Australia, Europe
Regions:Asia & Africa, Australia, Europe, Hawaii
Regions:Caribbean, Europe, Transatlantic
Good for: Seniors. Overall Service. Group.
Regions:Caribbean, Europe, Transatlantic
Good for: Overall Service. Teens. Children`s Programs.
Regions:Alaska, California, Hawaii, Mexico
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Asia & Africa, Australia, Panama Canal
Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.
Regions:Alaska, California, Hawaii, South America
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Asia & Africa, Australia, South Pacific, Tahiti
Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.
This was the WORST CRUISE OF MY LIFE.
1 -- There was an epidemic on board the Star Princess. A huge number of passengers had severe vomiting and diarrhea accompanied by high fevers. The fact that cruise ships tend to have epidemics of vomiting and diarrhea, and not the much more common cold, tells you that it is not being brought onboard by a sick passenger. These bugs are most likely living in the carpeting, drapes, bedspreads, blankets, or ventilation. They could also be being spread by asymptomatic crew members who are carriers.
2 -- My husband and I are good cooks. It was difficult to find good tasting food at the buffet. We did eat dinners at the restaurant. On some evenings the food was very good. On other evenings, the food was mediocre to bad. I could cook better in my sleep. At the end of the cruise, they were actually trying to sell their cookbook!!!
3 -- The Beagle Channel Wildlife shore excursion (Ushuaia) was really boring. We saw a few seals and some birds. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
4 -- We tried to go to the poolsone night right after dinner, but they were already closed for the night.
5 -- The shore excursion to see the penguins in Punta Arenas was canceled because the penguins had moved on. This was disappointing, but at least they were honest about it.
6 -- The captain took the ship all the way around Cape Horn, which is an island at the tip of South America. We saw Cape Horn about 5 PM. The scenery from that point until it got too dark to see was fabulous.
We anticipated this 'trip of a life time' with eagerness, and now that it is over we are still awe inspired by this southernmost continent: Antarctica. So little is known by many of us, that when we think COLD, it is the Arctic North Pole which first comes to mind; however, actually it is Antarctica and the South Pole where the coldest temperatures are recorded (-112 to -130 degrees F. in the winter and 41-59 degrees F. in the summer). Don't forget that the seasons are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere. Antarctica is a frozen desert with hardly any precipitation. Then why go there? Actually less than 20,000 people have visited it. But, those of us who have, can now relate the beauty of the snow covered mountains, the stunning variety of icebergs seen in “Iceberg Alley” and the various wildlife (whales [9 varieties], seals [3 types], penguins [5 varieties] and the many other birds like albatross, petrels, cormorants, etc.).
Now let us go back to the beginning -- We flew American Airlines from Miami, FL on Feb. 17th. Flight #909 was set for a 8:15 pm departure and we boarded ontime. Then we sat on the tarmac for two hours while baggage handlers searched for a passenger's luggage in order to remove it, since this person had opted to be paid to make a latter departure. In the waiting areas, it was obvious that AA had over booked several flights and enticed passengers to give up their seats for money plus free hotel rooms and meals etc. We left two hours late, but the time was made up in flight and we arrived on schedule in Buenos Aires, Argentina the next morning. We spent overnight with Vincent's family and embarkation was Feb. 19, 2008 at noon.
EMBARKATION Embarkation was chaotic to say the least. In port were the MS Symphonia and other ships. There were no baggage carts and very few handlers to take luggage. Vincent with the help of his cousin Fabian found someone to help with the wheelchair, but there were huge potholes and we didn't get far. Out of the blue, the taxi driver from yesterday at the airport appeared: Giorgio! He came straight to us and said,”Signora! May I help you.” Problem solved. When Vincent returned and heard about it he said,”nothing like tipping well.” We had done pre boarding at a downtown hotel the day before and received cream colored boarding cards. Thus, we moved straight ahead to buses and the ship's gangway. It all seemed well, but we were told we still needed boarding cards which were supposed to be on the pier. After a mix up, where our passports were sent back to the pier, Jr. Asst. Purser Suzanna Romano got our boarding passes from the ship. She assured us our passports were safe with the ship's personnel. And they were, because all passports were collected, so that clearance for each country we entered was done on board in each country we visited.
SHIP The Star Princess was built by Fincantieri in Monfalcone, Italy and launched in January 2002. Her length is 950.1 feet; Breadth is 118.1 feet and she has a draft 27.7 feet. Her total passenger capacity is 3,100 and she sails with a crew of 1,120. She is propelled by six diesel electric engines. Her cruising speed is 21 knots and maximum speed 23.3 knots.
The Star Princess is beautiful both inside and out. We have already done a deck by deck description of this ship, published in 2005, when we first cruised on her in the Caribbean. So this review will center on the Ports and the gorgeous natural vistas offered by Antarctica. There were over 1,800 Princess Captain's Circle Members on board and Captain Bob Oliver of Harwich, England hosted four cocktail parties in order to accommodate us all. We had a fantastic Bridge Tour with Capt. Oliver and his 3rd Officer Raffaele Ansanti. We learned of the many ship's components all linked to the LIPS joystick giving terrific maneuverability to this huge 109,000 ton ship. This was soon to be appreciated as the very able Captain threaded our way among icebergs.Overall the ship's decorations are in exceptionally good taste. There is simplicity and elegance rather than neon and gaudiness. We found the ship to be in excellent condition and well kept.
CABINS Our wheelchair accessible cabin #E304 on Emerald Deck 8 is centrally located near the forward elevators. It has a wide entrance which is necessary for a wheelchair. On the left is an excellent large bathroom with safety rails all around. There is a fold away seat in the 5'x5' shower. There are also two large shelves for toiletries above the single sink.
There are two low dressers flanking the king size bed with the “de rigor” heavy white puff, but, for the first time, since we were travelling to the South Pole, this puff was necessary. When entering on the right there is a parking space for the wheel chair. Next, there is a triple armoire with hangers in, two sections and shelves and a private safe in the third section. There s a TV, bar and refrigerator,and a long desk/vanity with a lighted mirror and four drawers. The back wall has a huge window which was partially obstructed by a life boat. Our view was “letterbox”, just as when viewing an old Vista Vision film on TV. Top and bottom are cut off, but the panoramic sweep is wonderful. We had an excellent view of the continental shelf from our cabin.
Our steward was Luis and he was very efficient. Thanks.
SERVICE & FOOD Service is overseen by Passenger Services Director (PSD) Claudio Mazzoni, who was extremely helpful in answering our many questions. The ship service is excellent, Asst. Purser Suzanna facilitated boarding, assessed delays and took control. How nice it feels when it seems everything is mixed up and someone can take control and ameliorate the situation.
We were leery about taking this trip so far away from home with a wheel chair etc. Mary has a distinct fear of falling, since she broke her leg that way last October. However, Dr. Marguerite Bozian, our travelling companion, was the one who slipped and broke her arm. Princess' Dr. Stewart Buchanan and nurse Vina came to the rescue: they expertly cared for her and sent her home with a write up, DVD, X rays and a history of the whole matter. All of which her husband Dr. Richard Bozian termed as “not only efficient, but accurate and sensitive....the whole matter was impeccable” and a credit to Princess Cruises. Thus, we learned about the medical service on board through our friends, and it is comforting to know that the quality is excellent.
Of course, it is in the dining rooms where service reaches its apex. The suave Maitre D'Hotel Daniele Saredi secured for us a table for six near the entrance to the Capri Dining Room. We don't like to disturb diners with our walker or wheel chair. We had sixteen happy evenings with our travelling companions the Drs. Bozian and the Drs. Chen. Our Waiter Emmanuel and his Asst. Waiter Ariel were spot on. The Head Waiters Silvio and Angelito always charmed us with Executive Chef Francesco La Forgia's marvelous food! We can still smell the wonderful Limoncella cake served in an artisan crafted chocolate bowl. How delicious!
The best way to describe the food is to start at the beginning; each morning we were served continental breakfast in our cabin by the very prompt and efficient Elena. Her smiles and her bouncy curtsies were a delightful way to start off the day. The meal consisted of Cappuccino, hot chocolate, croissants, and brioches with fresh fruit plates and marmalades along with cereals. Excellent!
At lunch we mostly dined in the Portofino Dining Room where Maitre D' Vincenzo outdid himself with excellent tables near the windows. The lunch menu was terrific. Some of the selections were Mozzarella in Carrozza , fried calamari, Monte Cristo sandwich (ham & cheese on French toast) and crispy English style fish & chips. So many choices, so many decisions. When the weather was nice, we went up to the Horizon Court Buffet or to Prego Pizza and the Trident Grill, for Hamburgers, Chicken Sandwiches, Hot Dogs or German sausages, which were served with the lightest French Fries afloat.
Dinner was the best time for our group, because we all got together after going our separate ways during the day. We talked of the ports, the Antarctic scenes, the photos we took, the gigantic tabular icebergs, the wildlife and the wonderful food. Appetizers were Pate', shrimp, pineapple boats, etc.... Soups included Lobster Bisque, clam chowder, cream of wild mushrooms, clear broths with tortellini, or refreshing cold slurry style soups of pineapple or mangos --- so nice.
Entrees of many types were offered, plus a pasta course. Try the Fettuccine Alfredo served in a Parmigiano Reggiano cheese bowl, or spaghetti alle vongole or primavera. The main entrees included succulent and tender beef Prime Rib; fillet Mignon; veal, lamb or pork chops; and seafood such as salmon, Chilean bass, shrimp, lobster, etc.... Desserts were many and varied pies -- lemon, apple, pecan, etc.; profiteroles; souffle`, cheese cakes and mousses -- plus a large selection of ice creams and sorbets. Our hats are off to Chef Francesco La Forgia. When he strolls through the dining room, you can't miss him-- 6'2” with a 10” chef's toque, he's easily spotted.
ENTERTAINMENT Cruise Director Frank Castiglione keeps the passengers hopping with the following: Bingo, Trivia (Get some new questions, players are tired of seeing the same back-to-back and round the world cruisers walk off with all the valuable prizes [the real plastic key chains and the Princess logo luggage tags are collectors items!] and No, if you are on the ship nonstop for 76 days, it does not make you smarter than the rest of us, even a parrot could win if it heard the same questions over and over again). There are dances in the Skywalkers Night Club on Sky Deck 17and Casino tournaments. The on board Lectures by Joe May and other University Professors were very well received. The Las Vegas style entertainment each evening was lead by the following: Philippa Healey with her mix of opera and classical songs had a standing ovation, the tenor Vincent Talarico was enjoyed in concert. Maurizio, who played several nights in the Atrium, Plaza Deck, was a sensation in concert one night titled “The Duke of Verona” in the Vista Lounge. The ship has many areas for entertainment and relaxation. We had a wonderfully relaxing time, but of course, it was the itinerary which drew us so far from home. This was a never to be forgotten trip. In view of an article dated March 6, 2008, which detailed the breaking off of a 400 square kilometer ice sheet from the Wilkins Ice Shelf on the SW Antarctica Peninsula and with scientists saying that this is another indication of global warming, we feel that future generations probably will not be as lucky as we have been to enjoy the wonders of Antarctica. Perhaps, these wonders will diminish with the passing of time.
ITINERARY 2-19-08 Buenos Aires, Argentina Sail away. 7:00pm
2-20-08 River Plate out to the Sea headed to the Falkland Islands.
2-21-08 At Sea
2-22-08 Stanley, Falkland Islands Arrive 7:00am Depart 7:20pm Tendering to the on shore pontoon.
2-23-08 At Sea. At 1:15pm we passed over the Antarctic Convergence Zone where the sea temperature falls rapidly due to the constant melting of Antarctic ice into the Southern Ocean. The first look outs for icebergs were put to work on the Bridge.
2-24-08 Elephant Island -- The first pieces of ice were detected on the ship's radar. This island juts out of the ocean. At 4:30am we passed latitude 60 S. and formally headed into Arctic waters. At 9:00am we sighted Elephant Island, numerous icebergs and many penguins. After cruising around the island we headed SW.
2-25-08 We set course toward the Antarctic Sound, but conditions worsened and at 8:24am we turned around and began a slow exit of the Sound and crossed the Bransfield Straight towards Admiralty Bay. This was the first of several stunning days, with the slow movement of the ship affording passengers magnificent views of icebergs and spouting whales. The sun was shining brilliantly and we approached 400 foot high icebergs. Surreal! They were so huge compared to the ones in Alaska.
This was our first glimpse of Antarctica and it was spectacular! The age of an iceberg is told by how low it sits in the water. The blue ice is the oldest and most compact, the white ice is newer and has more air in it. These huge icebergs usually last about 8 years and are eroded by water and air. They turn over in the water and there is a tide line around the bergs. The seals are in the water even in the winter. During the winter, this area is 80% covered in ice and only ice breaker vessels can enter here.
The famous explorer Captain Cook would pull up the smaller icebergs, called “Burgy Bits” and bring them on board as a source of fresh water. On the Port side of the ship we saw part of the ice shelf 100ft. above water and 800ft. below. There were spectacular icebergs every where, with some bigger than the ship. There were tabular perfect rectangles of pure white that looked as if they were sawed off. There were some shaped like ramps which could be used for water skiing. Our first glimpse of Antarctica revealed its pyramid shaped mountains, snow and vertical striations and the ice cap that in some places can be over 5 miles deep.
We sailed through out Admiralty Bay and at 1:15pm the scientists from the Polish Artowski Research Station boarded the Star Princess and gave a short informative talk. They were invited to dinner and left soon after to return to King George Island. Their station has been operating continuously since 1977. We heard of glacial movement and the micro chemistry of their layers which trap pockets of atmosphere. At 6:32pm we passed out into the Bransfield Strait and headed south to the Neumayer channel.
2-26-08 Sunrise 5:55 am and Sunset 9:47 pm gave us an almost 16 hour day -- fantastic, like the white nights of the Baltic! This morning there was a brilliant sunrise. Humpback and orca whales were sighted spouting everywhere, easily spotted by the oil slick they leave on the water. Penguins were also seen. The orca whales work in packs much like wolves; they separate out the weaker prey and attack. Thank heaven, we did not witness them in action. The view from our cabin window is picture perfect.
The on board Antarctic specialist says this is a rare clear day here. Port side lets us view the Ice Cap and the Antarctic Peninsula. It is the narrowest point of the peninsula called Paradise Harbor. The other side of the peninsula is the Weddell Sea. The water is incredibly calm and there are Burgy Bits everywhere with penguins on them and pods of whales in the Gerlach Strait (Gerlach was the first explorer to spend a winter here and with him was Armundsen the first man to go to the South Pole). At 11:20am we reached our Southernmost point of this voyage, latitude 64, which places us 3,898 nautical miles south of the equator. The eeriness and quiet of this scene is remarkable, the water is almost glass like, today.
Lion Island is at the head of the Neumaier Channel. It looks like a sphinx with a black face. There is much more snow and ice here, actually, yesterday we saw snow flurries. In 1819 Anvers Island was named by a Belgian Expedition. We sailed northeasterly toward Deception Island.
2-27-08 At 7:45am we approached Deception Island and it was visible from some 10 miles away. All morning we saw minke and humpback whales and then penguin colonies on the shore. The island is actually the remains of a volcano with a caldera similar to Santorini. From here we turned away from the Antarctic and faced patches of fog where visibility was near zero.
2-28-08 We crossed the Drake Passage neared the Pilot Station at Cape Horn. The waters were exceptionally calm, unlike the last time we rounded the Horn. The pilot boat was an hour and a half late and Capt. Oliver circled patiently waiting. Fortunately, the sea was very calm, and we had an excellent view of the Chilean Flag over the weather station and the Albatross Monument dedicated to those sailors who lost their lives in these treacherous waters. There is an old tradition for sailors who round the Horn: they had their ears pierced, got a tattoo and had a drink of rum, which they shared with the sea by pouring some into the ocean.
2-29-08 Ushuaia, Argentina Arrive 6:50am Depart 4:28 pm Many passengers were happy to set foot on terra firma and do some shopping. Magellan called this Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire). It was named that because sailors feared it due to the wildness, fierce winds and the rocky shores that literally ate up whaling ships. Today it was 58 F degrees and bright and sunny in the morning. In the afternoon we headed for the Beagle Channel. The Argentinian pilot debarked and the Chilean pilot steered the Star Princess through the Beagle Channel past the European named glaciers.
We have seen these glaciers six years ago and we were amazed by how much they have receded: in some of them the ice that once arrived all the way down to the water has been replaced by waterfalls, more evidence of global warming.
3-1-08 Punta Arenas, Chile Arrive 6:48 am Depart 7:50pm This is the southernmost Chilean city which is a center for oil drilling. It has stark snow less mountains and was the turning point of our journey, for today in the rain we headed back east and then north to Uruguay. Our travel companions returned to Sotito's Restaurant where we had dined in 2002. They enjoyed it, but not as much as when we had eaten there before.
3-2-08 At Sea Smooth seas and a sunny day in the open waters of the South Atlantic. 3-3-08 At Sea Sailing Northeasterly in over cast skies. 3-4-08 At Sea Sailing Northeasterly in clear skies. 3-5-08 Montevideo, Uruguay Arrive 7:45am Depart 5:00pm 3-6-08 Buenos Aires, Argentina Arrive 6:00am Debarkation 8:30am
DEBARKATION This was much smoother than embarkation. We had wheelchair assistance from our cabin to the bus only, and then we were stuck until we were moved to luggage pick up. Once more we were on our own until we managed to get a porter. Needless to say, it was not too smooth, and we were happy to see cousin Fabian again, waiting for us outside the terminal.
CONCLUSION Definitely, this has been one of our best cruises ever, considering the itinerary, our traveling friends, Marguerite and Richard Bozian and Yvonne and Alan Chen, the excellent food and service, especially in the restaurants, and our return to the Star Princess. And just think that we almost canceled the booking of this cruise due to Mary's recent knee replacement surgery. We are glad we didn't!
We have booked two future cruises with Princess, one on the Norwegian Cruise Line without specific dates and one in November on the new RCI ship Independence of the Seas. We have not booked a cruise for this spring or summer due to Mary's knee surgery scheduled for April 10th. However, we hope that she will recover fast, so we don't have to wait too long for the next cruise. Happy Cruising!
Travel Arrangements From start to finish disorganization around travel arrangements is normal. Princess's inability to arrange airline assignments continues. Evidently they just don't care about things such as spouses sitting together on lengthy flights despite the arrangements being booked 3-5 months ahead and paid for in advance.
Embarkation Embarkation continues to be a major challenge. As an example, in 30 deg plus, high humidity weather, platinum and elite passengers are forced to wait hours while staff fruitlessly search for boarding cards and other assorted documentation on the Buenos Aires dock. Disembarkation is another nightmare albeit a 'gong show' in trying to get passengers to the airport. When queried, on board staff say it's all to do with being in a South American port and decry any control over the situation, yet other cruise lines out of Buenos Aires seem to handle the situation very well.
Noro Virus We found out while we were on the ship that the previous cruise had severe problems with novo virus. Despite our best efforts to protect ourselves we and numerous experienced cruisers contracted the dreaded virus. The virus weakened many people's resistance so that when they recovered, theyfairly quickly contracted a severe cold/flu that was running rampant throughout the boat. The flu spared no one, entertainers and staff alike.
Cleanliness The boat doesn't appear to be properly cleaned. Other passengers complained of boarding the boat and finding dirty sheets on their bed. Certainly we saw that as we were disembarking, despite the tremendous amount of illness that had been on the boat, no methods were being employed differently to ensure it was clean enough for passengers arriving that very afternoon for the next voyage.
Due Diligence Passengers sign a document prior to boarding that they have not been ill for two days. Yet we met people from the UK who boarded the boat while they were sick and had been so for 2 weeks. There is no effort made to ensure that people boarding the boat are healthy which just exacerbates the problems that this boat was having. One would expect extra efforts which were non evident.
Smoking The smoking arrangements on this ship are obviously not well thought through. For example, in all the areas where there is dancing, the smoking area is right beside it even though there is lots of room to move smoking well away from the dance floor. The ventilation arrangements appear sporadic in these smoking areas as well. This is evidently a corporate policy.
Food We were astonished to find that even though the ship was embarking from Buenos Aires all food was sourced from LA. Argentina is famous for the world's best organic beef, pork and lamb and yet we had no chance of enjoying it. There was no effort at all for the menus to reflect the local cuisine. For example, there was no Argentinian wines on board. This is evidently a corporate policy.
Staff The staff on board overall are extremely helpful, friendly and service oriented. It seems in these situations their hands are tied by corporate policies. These policies must be reflecting a continuing shrinking of resources and penny-pinching attitude from head office.
Conclusion This experience has certainly soured us at looking at any other Princess offerings. The preventable problems of this cruise were a source of major disappointment. Antarctica was a fantastic experience.
Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess by Marlene Blackburn Eastern Caribbean February 17, 2008
We just completed our first cruise on 2/24/08 aboard the Caribbean Princess. Overall, the service was great, lots of food and variety of it, and lots of entertainment.
I was pleased with just about everything until 2/19 around 12:30 pm, when my significant other and myself were on the Riviera Deck, 14 Terrace Pool, when much to my surprise, I noticed a woman sunbathing topless amongst children. I immediately notified one of the wait staff that I was offended by it and that there were children in the area. He told me he had just reported it. After about 45 minutes of nothing happening, at least 5 of the crew dressed in white, one with a camera (who took a picture of something), were on the deck but none of them said anything to the woman. After an hour and a half, still nothing had been said. I was ticked off because I had expected something to be done and it wasn't.
I'll never take another (Princess) cruise again for the simple fact that the crew didn't respect my wishes andcorrect the problem.
I later contacted the front desk and asked to speak to someone in authority about it. The man I spoke to didn't let me speak to anyone about it other than himself, and as of that time, which was about 5 pm, there had not been any formal report filed. All he did was apologize to me, which just isn't enough.
I didn't spend that kind of money to see some woman baring herself to everyone regardless of others' feelings.
Another great cruise with Princess (our fourth).
We stayed at the Best Western Oceanside in Ft. Lauderdale 2 nights before and 2 nights after the cruise. The hotel is adequate for a pre-/post-cruise stay. It was very close to the beach and a short cab ride to Port Everglades and Ft. Lauderdale airport. But, next time welll choose a place a shorter walking distance to more restaurants/stores/activity.
Embarkation was smooth. After a short wait in line, we were given a colored numbered card, went through their security/scanning process and a took a seat. Since we were there early, we had about an hour wait before they began the check-in/boarding process. But, the time passed quickly, as we struck up a conversation with the folks sitting across from us. The Platinum & Elite passengers were moved through first then they called each colored numbered card. Smoothest process so far out of Port Everglades.
The ship was the largest we've sailed so far. With approximately 3,000 passengers we never found the public areas too crowded, with a couple of exceptions: when the shops set up their table full of wares out in the walk-way areaand couldnlt get a lounger by the pool except for the days in port. "Chair hogs" strike again! A sea of loungers as far as the eye can see, occupied only by a towel and a book, flip-flop or hat. I've vowed to myself that on our next cruise I will occupy any chair of my liking that is "saved" and inform the passenger, if/when they return, that there is no saving chairs. Well, enough about that!
There was just so much to do on the ship that you couldn't possibly do everything!
Princess Theater We attended the Welcome Aboard, Motown & Boogie Shoes shows. The Welcome Aboard show featured comedian Billy Vader, the cast & showband, with Cruise Director Lisa Ball. An ok show. We saw Billy Vader on the Coral Princess Feb. 2007 and he was hilarious -- not so much this first show on the Emerald. I'm sure if he was just getting warmed up. Unfortunately, never connected with another of his shows this cruise. Both DH & I loved the Motown show. I loved the Boogie Shoes show, DH not so much.
Crooners We gravitated here most nights for cocktails before dinner and had the wonderful company of other couples who enjoyed the same before-dinner routine. It was here I was introduced to a yummy concoction called the "Jammy Donut". If you like Chambord, try this. Also, I tried many different martinis over the course of the cruise. My favorite is the Lemontini.
Skywalkers Nightclub Nice club, very comfortable seating, with DJ, located Aft, deck 18. It was not crowded at all the night we went.
Explorers Lounge Saw some of the comedy show starring Al Katz. He was very entertaining.
Wheelhouse Bar We stopped in one evening after dinner to enjoy nice music, nice ambiance, comfortable seating.
Street Performers Performances were held on Deck 5 in the Midship Plaza -- various performers with different acts. Always drew a crowd.
Fitness Center Very well equipped and wasn't crowded the one time I used it! I enjoyed walking the Promenade Deck 7. 2.7 laps = 1 mile.
On Deck for the Cure This was held for the Susan G. Komen charity foundation and the walk raised $1,213.
Formal Nights These were held on the first and last sea days.
Dining We chose late Traditional. We ate in the dining room every night and there were a few tables within our view that were empty the entire duration of the cruise. Other tables were occupied less than half the time. Seeing so many empty tables in Traditional dining was the oddest experience, especially since it is usually difficult to be assigned a table in Traditional dining. We had a table for six. One couple never showed up and our other dinner companions said they had been waitlisted for a table of 10 and were assigned to our table of 6. Food was good with a good selection. Our waiter, Ronaldo, and assistant waiter, Juan, were pleasant and attentive. We had breakfast at the Horizon Buffet each morning and some lunches. Tried the Caribe Café (similar to the Horizon) and the International Café. Some different yummy free food fare at the International Café, of course, along with some even yummier desserts, for which they charge a nominal fee. The grill on the Lido deck had great hamburgers and hotdogs. We didn't enjoy the pizza. We tried it several times and it never quite seemed cooked enough in the middle of the pie. I don't know what else I was doing, but I missed the Seafood Extravaganza Buffet in the Horizon & Café Caribe! Well, I heard it was wonderful. We didn't eat in the Crown Grill or Sabatinis.
Ports Antigua: We took a taxi to Dickenson Bay and spent a few hours on the beach. We rented two lounge chairs for $5 each. Beautiful beach. There were water sports available and a beach bar called Tony's. Enjoyed talking to a Canadian couple from our ship and a lady from Livorno, Italy, who was visiting her brother who lived on the island. The taxi driver, Glenroy Burton, Burtonls Taxi Service, was all that his business card stated -- Friendly, Efficient, Courteous and Reliable. He was very pleasant, interesting & talkative. Charged $3.00 per person each way when 4 or more people in the cab ($6 per person when only two people in cab). He was right on time to pick us up for our return trip to the ship. We shared the cab with the other couple we met on the beach. (firstname.lastname@example.org) Another cab driver wanted our fare, but we said we were waiting for Glenroy. The next trip to Antigua we hope Glenroy is still operating his taxi. We'll be sure to seek him out again. After leaving Glenroy, we shopped for a couple of things for the grandkids and headed back to the ship. Sky at noon was partly cloudy, temp 26.5C/79.7F.
St. Lucia: We took the Catamaran to the Pitons, booked through Princess. A nice day for a catamaran ride. Plenty to drink, lots of music, chatted with Stephania, from Italy, who married a St. Lucian. We stopped for a swim which was a welcome refreshing dip into the beautiful St. Lucia waters. Great crew who really knew how to dance! The Captain loved to sing along to the music. We enjoyed the trip very much. Sky at noon was scattered clouds, temp 28.0C/82.4F.
Barbados: We took a shuttle into Bridgetown and poked around in the shops a bit. ($2 per person each way -- they make sure the shuttles are full going out. On the way back, we shared a cab with another couple and the fare was the same.) You can also walk to town. It is roughly about a mile from the pier. We stopped for some refreshment in a food court in one of the indoor mall areas and chatted with a couple from England who were there for an extended stay. We were able to mail postcards from the post office located in the cruise ship terminal. Also, bought some wine for our cabin. Not a huge selection of wine from which to choose, but I did find two bottles of tasty vino. After making my last purchase in the terminal, a sun hat that caught my eye, we headed back to the beach. Sky at noon was fine & sunny, temp 28.0C/82.4F.
St. Kitts: Due to a strong, adverse, force 7 wind, the Captain made the decision to abort this port. We were disappointed, but safety first. Next time we go to St. Kitts, we'll reschedule our "St. Kitts Scenic Railway" shore excursion.
St. Thomas: We took a full van from the pier into Charlotte Amalie. We tried to call friends due on the island, but telephone service was "on the fritz" for a few hours that morning -- pay phones, cell phones and land lines. We finally made a connection and were told our friends weren't arriving until after we were due back onboard the ship. Oh, well, maybe next time. We enjoyed Charlotte Amalie. Shopped, sent postcards to the grandkids and when we stopped for a drink in one of the establishments located in a side walkway, we chatted with many people from various ships. Sky at noon was sunny, temp 25.0C/77.0F. Went back to the ship and sat on our balcony and admired all the beautiful yachts in port.
Princess Cays: We didn't tender to the island since we had been there many times. Chose to stay onboard and enjoy the serenity of a sparsely populated ship. There were plenty of lounge chairs by the pool!
Disembarkation Getting off the ship was smooth. We had plenty of time to have a leisurely breakfast. We were instructed to meet in the Casino and while there was a bit of a delay being called from the Casino to disembark, no matter -- everything was orderly with no crowding near the exit. One of the best disembarkations we've experienced. Found our bags without too much trouble and exited the building to grab a cab. Now the "fun" began! The Emerald Princess and Caribbean Princess passengers were disembarking at the same time in the same section of the port. The cab line was long. We waited about an hour for a cab to our hotel. Thank goodness it wasn't raining, as we were out in the middle of the blacktop with no protective covering. It was hot and you could tell everyone was trying to keep their tempers from flaring, especially when a bus "needed" to drive through the line of people waiting for cabs. I must say, despite this bit of unpleasantness, people in line were talking of their cruise experience to each other and we all got through the wait.
Flight Home We were fortunate that the power blackout from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami didn't affect those traveling from Ft. Lauderdale Airport. Our flight out of Ft. Lauderdale was only delayed a few minutes and we made our connecting flight home with time to spare. All our luggage was retrieved from the carousel and our wonderful neighbor was waiting for us at the airport to deliver us home.
We thoroughly enjoyed our 3,131 nautical miles sailing on the Emerald Princess and would sail her again if the itinerary suited us.
We were booked on the Grand Princess to leave 2/2/08 from Ft. Lauderdale for a one week Western Caribbean cruise traveling with our adult children and their spouse or significant other. The plan was to leave Chicago on Friday, 2/1/08 and stay overnight one night pre-cruise to allow for any weather delays. This proved to be prophetic as it started snowing on Thursday and continued for 24 hours, dumping about a foot of snow in Chicago, causing cancellations of 600 flights on Thursday at O'Hare and continuing on Friday. Lucky for us, we were flying United which has its hub in Chicago and we not only had an aircraft at our gate but our flight was on time. The "kids" were taking public transportation from the city while we arranged a taxi from the suburbs. They actually beat us to the gate while we barely had time to check our luggage before the 25 minute cut off time. The anxiety over the weather overshadowed everything else on our minds with us getting up several times during the night to check the snowfall and/or the Weather Channel.
As we finally winged our wayto Ft. Lauderdale with great relief, something my son had said about his passport stamps triggered something in my mind. I turned to my husband and asked if he had brought the passports as they had been sitting on his dresser. The horrified look that he gave me confirmed my fears. We weren't going to land for another 2 hours and had no way to contact anyone for that time. We frantically discussed this with the kids trying to come up with some solution.
The girl sitting next to me overheard our conversation and suggested that we have someone go to the house and FEDEX them to us. The problem was that anyone who had a key to the house was sitting on the plane with us. She suggested that we could get a friend to have a locksmith meet them at our house to open the door, retrieve the passports and then send them to us at the hotel where we were staying the night. This sounded like a good idea to me but DH felt that there was too many parts to this plan that could go wrong and his plan was to fly immediately back to Chicago and come back the next day.
As soon as we landed, we called Donna, our trusty travel agent for advice and she called Princess to confirm that we absolutely needed passports or a certified copy of your birth certificate to be allowed to board the ship. She suggested a national database here in the States which would send you a certified copy of your birth certificate overnight. The fly in the ointment for that idea was that hubby was not born in the USA. We asked her to start checking flights from Ft. Lauderdale when I mentioned the locksmith idea. She became very excited and said that she had a good friend who was a locksmith and she would call him and ask if he would do this for her.
While we went down to baggage claim, we also talked to the Princess rep who met us for the bus transfer to the hotel and told her that DH might not be coming with us. Donna called back and said that while the locksmith would open the house, he would not go in it because of the liability involved with his license. His best friend however was Donna's ex-boyfriend and he agreed to go along and get the documents off Karl's dresser and take them to a FEDEX-KINKOS for next day delivery. Donna had also found the closest FEDEX-KINKOS to our house and that they had late pick-up to 7 PM for next day delivery. Since it was only still 1:00 PM, Chicago time, we felt we had a chance for success.
Confident that we had a solution, we boarded the bus to the hotel. Donna called us about 10 minutes later and conferenced us in with the locksmith who was having trouble opening the lock. He said that he had to make a key in order to open the door and did my key have a number on it. It was the original key which did indeed have a number on it and he was able to open the door! Confirming the hotel address with Donna and the exact location of the passports in the house, she said she would call us later to confirm that the package was on the way. We were just pulling up to the hotel when she did call and said the envelope would be delivered by noon, guaranteed.
Our son-in-law asked us to get the tracking number and he would check it for us the next day. Donna called us back that evening with it and we all breathed a sigh of relief. We were so grateful to her for going above and beyond for us; we could not thank her enough! You would not get someone to do this for you from an online agency or if you had booked directly with the cruise line. She charged the locksmith fee, about $100 and the FEDEX fee about $44 to our credit card. This was a small price to pay for our stupidity. There was no charge for all of her trouble organizing this for us.
Check in at the Marriott North which we had booked through Princess was painless and we asked to have rooms together which were no problem for the efficient clerk who checked us in. I also asked about receiving a package the next day and was reassured that FEDEX definitely stopped there. Our rooms were comfortable and clean, typical Marriott decor which we are familiar with, being Marriott Reward Members. Everything was prepaid, except for any meals or drinks we might have while being there. The hotel had an adjoining nature preserve which was used by guests to wander through. We had wanted to find a grocery or liquor store where we could purchase some wine and vodka to take with us on the ship. There wasn't any within walking distance.
The hotel restaurant was between meals so we all met in the bar for a drink and decided to walk across Andrews Ave. to the small mall for dinner. There was a multiplex there plus several chain restaurants, Chammps, Longhorn, Hooters, Sweet Tomatoes, Dunkin Donuts, some Italian place and probably a couple of others I don't remember. We voted for Chammps and were very pleased with the menu and the large portion sizes which none of us could finish. After only an airport breakfast and all the subsequent anxiety, we were finally hungry enough to eat. It was still only about 6:00 PM but after wandering around the mall, no one really wanted to see a movie so we all decided to head back to our rooms to watch TV and crash.
The next day before breakfast, Jeremy checked the tracking number and said the envelope was currently in Pompano Beach which was the next town away. We went in for breakfast buffet anticipating that it would be there shortly. By eleven it was still not there and I asked him to check it again and it came up with an "exception." I called 1-800-GOFEDEX and they told me that the address was incorrect! But the package was on the truck and I could pick it up at the facility when the driver came back and don't worry because they were open until 7:00 PM. Small comfort when the ship was sailing @ 5:00! I was beside myself and I'm sure the person on the phone could hear the panic in my voice. She said that they could leave a message for the driver and hope that he would respond while still on his route. They asked for the correct address of the hotel which we provided and all we could do was wait. Karl was berating himself for not flying back to Chicago and taking care of it himself! Too many people involved make mistakes happen!
The hotel had given us a letter telling us to meet downstairs @ 11:30-12:00 for "pre-check-in". We had already placed our luggage outside our rooms at 9 AM for bellman pickup so we sent the kids down for the "pre-check-in" thinking we needed our passports to do this. It was simply passing out and filling out the health form and receiving a colored card indicating which bus you would board. We checked out of our room and anxiously awaited a call back from FEDEX. Unbeknownst to us, Donna had also noticed the incorrect address that morning and was also calling FEDEX.
I tried calling FEDEX again around 12:15 and got the same response, that they would send a message to the driver. I got the address for their depot in case we had to go there and retrieve it ourselves. In the meantime, we pulled our luggage out of the Princess pile so it wouldn't get on the ship without us and waited while the Holland America reps boarded about 12 buses for their cruise. We discussed our problem with the hotel manager and he assured us that the FEDEX depot was only 10 minutes away and most Saturday deliveries were over by 1:00 so we should have no problem getting there to get our package and making it to the ship on time. He even said that he would arrange for a Lincoln Town car for us that would be the same cost as a cab and would wait for us. So we had an alternate plan to pin our hopes on. Meanwhile, DH was waiting outside looking for any FEDEX truck that came by so he could throw his body into its path just in case it was the one with our passports. The kids were wondering if after all this planning for a family vacation, the parents wouldn't make it.
Karl had me call again @ 12:50 and the FEDEX person noticed a message that said that the driver would be there in 15 minutes! As soon as I hung up, Donna was calling us with the same news. She was feeling responsible since it was her friend who had put down the wrong address! They all raced outside waiting for the FEDEX truck to make an appearance while our daughter stayed with me calming my frazzled nerves. A few minutes later, FEDEX pulled up and Karl ran to him to claim our envelope. The driver questioned him because our name was spelled incorrectly but DH pulled out his driver's license to prove it was him and then tipped the guy.
And yes, inside were the passports, the bill for the locksmith and the key he had made to get into the house. Princess was still boarding buses and had not yet called our color. Our luggage went back into the pile and we were finally on our way! Had we ever discussed our passports before leaving? Yes, a few days earlier I had asked where they were thinking that if they were in the bank vault, I would have to go get them. But DH had assured me that they were on his dresser. And we then promptly forgot about them with all the anxiety over the weather.
On the bus ride to the pier, I kept touching the passports to reassure myself that they were really, truly in my possession. I think all of us were thinking about how soon we could have a drink when we were on board to "come down" from all the anxiety of the previous 24 hours. At the Terminal, we saw several ships like the Carnival Liberty, Holland America Westerdam, and RCI's Navigator of the Seas and, of course, the Grand Princess. Our son, David, ever the joker, was saying, "Hey Mom, I thought you said these ships were big?" Our luggage had gone on the bus at the hotel and we never had to see it again until it showed up outside of our rooms. Before we were allowed into the terminal we had to show our Passports (!) and our boarding passes which were scrutinized by name and photo. Our carryons were run through the scanner and we passed through a metal detector before passing further into the building.
There were no long lines and we all walked up to the check in for Aloha deck where we presented our passports, boarding passes and most importantly, our credit cards. Passports were scanned as were the boarding passes and credit cards; we were presented with our room keys and then walked through Security one last time showing our room keys before joining the queue for the boarding photos. Karl & I skipped this but insisted the kids do it as a souvenir if they wished to purchase it later. Right into the lobby where we were directed to the elevators and our floor. Our rooms were amidships and right off the elevator lobby so they were easy to find. I like the Princess touch of posting your names outside your room and having a little clear "mailbox" there also.
Karl & I had been on the Coral Princess the year before for a Panama Canal cruise but this was the first cruise for our family. We brought our daughter Alison, 35 & her hubby Jeremy, 34 and our son David, 29 with his girlfriend Missy, 28. There was some concern on our part that the age demographic would be in the "senior" category but there was a number of families on board with a broad range of ages. One family was having a reunion of about 30 members from all over the USA. After checking out our rooms, we went in search of the buffet for a snack to hold us over until early seating dinner. Here was where we found what we considered a major flaw of this ship; there was no central staircase for the passengers to use. Although we were one deck below the Lido deck, we had to go from the middle of the ship to the end each and every time we wanted to go up one deck. Or take the elevators which was a waste of time.
After lunch, David & Missy took off for some exploring on their own while the rest of us relaxed for a few moments. Finally being on the ship, I wanted to savor the experience before rushing off to do something else. But curiosity took over and we started at the top by the Skywalkers night club in the "shopping handle" end of the ship and worked our way down back to the pool deck where we hooked up with David & Missy again for our sail-away drink and bid adieu to Ft. Lauderdale for 7 days. We watched the Holland America ship back its way out of its berth ahead of us and sail down the channel before it was our turn. Leaving the channel we saw the Navigator of the Seas begin their maneuver away from the dock. For most of the cruise, we saw these ships flanking ours on the high seas and at night looking spectacular all lit up against the blackness of the open ocean.
Our luggage had arrived so we could clean up, change clothes and go down for our first dinner with Jorge, our waiter from Mexico and Englebert, our assistant waiter from the Philippines. There had been much discussion among our family about the seating times as the younger generation gets home from work later than we do and are used to a later dining time. I had thought that perhaps we would change to anytime dining after the first night but as it turned out, the ship left most ports by 4:30-5:00 PM and the early dining worked out well as then we all dispersed to our own devices for the rest of the evening. Since I tend to be an "organizer" or as my hubby calls it "bossy," we agreed that since everyone was an adult, they could do what they wanted on the cruise but that we all eat dinner together to share our days. As it happened, we crossed paths most days around lunch by the pool and spent an hour or so recounting their various shore excursions. They never suggested opening the doors between the balconies of our cabins to maintain their privacy. This was a family vacation of 6 adults, not 2 adults and 4 children.
The first sea day was of course, Sunday which happened to be Super Bowl Day. Karl, David & Jeremy all were looking forward to watching it on MUTS but it was very windy on deck as well as a little bouncy. Now Karl & I were never really conscious of the movement, but Alison was feeling rather queasy the first 2-3 days. We all ended up in the Vista Lounge where they showed the game on the big movie screen from an international feed without the commercials. They also did show it on MUTS and in the Snookers sports bar. Karl was disappointed that the casino wasn't taking any action (bets) on the game but not everyone was interested. It was also the first Formal night and we had let Jorge & Englebert know that we wouldn't be in the dining room that night. Princess put out a nice little spread of nachos with guacamole & salsa, pizza and little hot dogs wrapped in dough guaranteed to make you thirsty! The bar waiters were really hustling to fill the drink and the buckets of beer orders. Some passengers went up to the buffet at halftime for something a little more substantial but we all filled up on the junk food and the guys filled up on the beer too. I saw quite a few people dressed up which made sense since only about 400 or so were watching the game out of 2600 on the ship. Not being a big football fan if my BEARS aren't in the contest, I spent the third quarter in the casino before coming back to see the conclusion and the most exciting part of the game. By the time it was over, everyone was pretty loopy from the food and drink and the kids had early shore excursions the next morning in Ochos Rios, so we all headed to bed.
We were all pretty pleased with the Princess concept of "smart casual" in the dining room for most nights. Karl & I have been on 6 Celebrity cruises and while we like the Formal nights, the "informal" nights requiring the gentlemen to wear a sports coat and the ladies a nicer pantsuit or dress which are a bit much for a 7 day cruise. We have done it on a 14 day Hawaii cruise and believe me, it is a lot of packing. At least on that cruise, Karl rented a tux so he could eliminate the suit and extras. We have paid more than once for overweight bags on the airline and he is not a happy camper about it. Jeremy, David & Karl each brought a suit but we only went to one Formal night so while we went for a formal picture, it was a burden to bring it along.
Monday was our first stop in Ochos Rios and we were at an industrial kind of dock a short distance away from the main dock near all the shops. Princess was running a free shuttle there if you didn't want to walk along the road. Alison & Jeremy had signed up for an excursion of ocean kayaking and Dunn's River Falls. David & Missy were going to be more laid back and check out the area if there was anything they wanted to see or buy. Karl & I headed up to the very empty (by 9 AM) gym area to work the treadmills and watch CNN. This was the only stop where we had some rain. A few brief, if intense showers occurred and the sun was out by the time we pulled away from the dock. We ran into David & Missy by the pool and had a grill lunch with them. By the time they were ready to leave, Alison & Jeremy came by so we held the table for them so they could get some lunch. They found sushi in the buffet and were delighted to have this option. I should mention that they took photos of all their dinner food with their digital cameras because they were so impressed with the presentation and selection. This was crab leg night and we were all very impressed with this entree.
Tuesday was Grand Cayman and again the "oldsters" stayed on the ship having been there 4 times already. The "young-un's" actually signed up for the same bus excursion to Hell and other points of interest. They were very on top of things, reading their Princess Patter and knowing to purchase stamps for postcards from Hell prior to leaving the ship. They did point out that they were the youngest ones on this excursion which involved minimal walking. They thought that they wanted to have a day to sleep in and not have to be off the ship every day @ 8 AM for an active excursion. Our weather was great, in the 80's & sunny and once we got past Cuba, the oceans were calm and the ship without any noticeable vibration. By this day, Alison had her sea-legs and was feeling pretty good. This is a night we should have gone to one of the specialty restaurants since it was Caribbean night and the choices on the menu were not too good.
Wednesday we tendered into Cozumel as there were 9 ships in port; 2 Carnival, 2 NCL, 1 RCCL, 1 Celebrity, 1 Costa, 1 Holland America & us, the Grand Princess. This was the only port Karl & I agreed to get off and do some shopping. Now I know what a sacrifice this was for him to accompany me as this is a man who will say that he would rather have his teeth drilled without Novocain than go shopping. But I was on a mission to purchase some Mexican vanilla and a Christmas ornament and he actually wanted some cologne. I also ended up with a lovely silver bangle bracelet courtesy of my husband. A word of caution about the vanilla. Don't buy it in the first store you see. This is what I did and I got the jumbo size for a very reasonable price. The bottle was the approximate size and shape & weight of a bottle of Amaretto. Only after we were hauling it around did I start to think about how I was going to get it home. Too big to carry on by far and pretty heavy to put in a tight suitcase. I had brought several sheets of bubble wrap and some larger plastic bags in anticipation of us being able to buy some liquor prior to boarding the ship, but that hadn't worked out. Lucky for us, our new suitcase had a built in scale and we made it under the allowed 50 lbs. Back on the ship after our shopping and it was time to relax in the hot tub once again.
Thursday was our final sea day and the last Formal night. Karl & I splurged on the Ultimate Balcony Breakfast and for $32 plus a 15% gratuity, it was a big disappointment. We substituted Eggs Benedict for the smoked salmon and we could have just ordered coffee and sweet rolls from room service and gone up to the buffet for a better selection. The split of champagne that came with it was good quality, Moet & Chandon, and we ended up drinking it in the evening when we came back to our room and sitting on our balcony.
This is one of the things we prefer about Celebrity; the full room service menu for all meals including dinner.
David, Missy & I attended some team trivia, winning 3 sets of Princess Luggage tags and going for the last big day of BINGO. I had had some luck in 2006 on our Hawaii cruise by winning the last game of Bingo for about $3500 which I had to split with another person. Always looking to repeat, I went with them. On the last game, the cover-all card, I was down to 1 NUMBER! The Bingo host stopped the game and said that from now on, if you had one number to stand up. So I did. And I was the only one! Unfortunately, he never did call the number I needed and about 4 people ended up splitting the prize. David & Missy were beside themselves with excitement and then disappointment. We headed back to the room to finish getting ready for dinner and our formal family portrait. Most of us ordered the lobster but Missy & Jeremy who are from the East, elected to have the Beef Wellington. They might have had the right idea since the lobster was so small as to be minute and was served w/2 prawns as well. I think they must save the big Lobster tails for the people who pay the $100 premium for the Ultimate Balcony Dinner.
We only saw 2 shows, since the production shows were identical to the ones we had seen on Coral Princess the previous year. A comedy duo juggling act who we recognized from having seen them on the Horizon many years ago and Al Katz, the comedian who was moderately funny. Most evenings we played Blackjack or 3 card Poker in the casino and managed not to lose too much. I think I only lost $200 for the whole week.
Friday, our last day, came too quickly and we prepared to tender off the ship @ Princess Cays. We had pre-booked beach cabanas and snorkeling equipment. I am glad I had read the info about the beach on these cruise boards. The sand was very thick but very soft and actually hard to walk through. The ocean floor however, was filled with rocks covered with seaweed and most people without surf shoes were not venturing out very far. I had pointed this out to the kids before we left, insisting that they get some beach shoes and they were glad that they did. The snorkeling was good, especially with the fish food supplied with the equipment in the deluxe package. The fish just swarmed all around you. The whole area was very clean, well maintained and the buffet was handled well. I don't know if it was because it was winter, but we did not see any bugs or flies around which you would expect with food and open garbage. The bathrooms were very clean and the only complaint was that the faucets to rinse off your feet were in the middle of the sand! I hated to think how much sand we were all bringing back on the ship. I imagine that the vacuum cleaners were going all night cleaning it up. We took off our surf shoes and bathing suits in the shower to try to minimize how much we were tracking into the room. This was the only day we got some sun which was evident when we took off our suits. We all took showers and naps before dinner. Too much fresh air and water!
Dinner was American night and they featured Prime Rib which was very good and of course, Baked Alaska. David had eschewed the other desserts all week for cheesecake and he did the same this night also. I had wondered how Missy would do with the menu every night since she is a very picky eater, but she found something she liked each night and loved the dessert soufflés, as did I. Alas, dinner was over too soon and Karl & I hit the casino one more time to pay homage to Lady Luck but she did not return the favor, so we literally packed it in and got our stuff outside the door for pickup.
We had an early flight @ 11:10 AM and I was wondering how rushed we would be, but we all gathered in the Vista Lounge by 7:30 and we walked off the ship @ 8:30 right onto the bus for Ft. Lauderdale airport and of course the 10 minute ride there. Our plane was on time and we were deplaning @ O'Hare @ 1:00 Chicago time. Our sweet week and our family vacation was at an end. David was staying at the airport as he had an afternoon flight to London as part of a band tour to Europe for the next 9 days. The rest of us all hugged and kissed goodbye and agreed to meet up at someone's house when David got home to share photos. It was very hard to come back to the very cold temps and blowing snow of Chicago after the beautiful temps and sunshine of the Caribbean. The next day, the temps plunged below zero and we were back to reality.
Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess by Dean Eastern Caribbean January 27, 2008
My wife and I sailed the Caribbean Princess on Jan 27-2008 for a 7 day Eastern Caribbean cruise. This was our 5th cruise, 2nd with Princess (2 with Carnival, 1 with RCCL) and we sailed with a group of 8 other people. Age ranges were from mid 30s to 70s Our overall experience was a very positive one shared by all of our travel mates.
A couple of positive points that stand out for us:
Embarkation -- We arrived as a group via taxi at about noon and were through the entire check in process and in our cabin at about 20 after 12. Very fast!!
Another thing we liked was the way the sections of Lido and Sun deck were like independent areas of the ship. Depending on which area you were in you couldn't hear any noise from another area bleeding in. Hard to explain but if you were at the spa pool you would not hear any of the movie sound that was just a short walk away. Or if you were watching the movie you couldn't hearthe band playing at Neptunes' pool just a few steps away. It felt like each of these parts of the ship were very independent.
We ate in the dining room every night, late seating. Our server was good, lots of selection. The food was excellent. Only a couple of the entrees during the week were less than impressive. The sea bass and prime rib were a little disappointing. We also tried the buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner and always found there to be lots of selection, excellent quality with different theme nights every night; Italian, Octoberfest, Seafood just to name a few.
We did afternoon tea in the dining room and were very impressed. Burgers, pizza and hot dogs on the deck were yummy.
If I had to pick a couple of things that could be improved on, I would say the buffet layout is one. There is no real flow to the buffet. You can enter from two sides which causes a lot of traffic jams when it's busy.
The day spent at Princess Cays is the other item for improvement. The beach and water are lovely, the bbq lunch was very good, loads of shade and loungers, but the last tender back to the ship is at three p.m., which really means you have to start packing up by 2 p.m. to get in line for the tenders. Princess Cays is their own private island. Why can't we stay until 5 p.m.? Give us all a little more time to enjoy it.
These items hardly affected our overall enjoyment of the cruise. We all had a great time and would highly recommend the ship and the line to anyone who wants to cruise.
Unaware that "Uncle Bob meets Bill W" and "Dorothy meets Friends" were "cloaks" for specific types of meetings and by their nature not for the general public, entrance to one of the first of those, in good faith, provoked an act of violence and outburst of profanity towards a friend that could have provoked further trouble. A complaint was made to the Cruise Director who said that Princess had no responsibility for those meetings and that they merely provided a room.
I would suggest that someone on the staff should be present at the start of these meetings to see that they are properly underway without any embarassment.
Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess by B Hayden Western Caribbean January 20, 2008
I was very pleasantly surprised with the inside cabin's space. Huge closet and storage.
Meals were superb. First night service took over an hour to bring the entree but after that night, service was great. Wasn't very personal though as we always had different waiters.
On the down side, the women's restrooms ALWAYS had one stall that was closed for maintenance. Lines all the time.
I have mixed feelings about my Jan 2008 cruise on the Diamond Princess. I enjoyed the food and the staff; our steward, and our two waiters were wonderful. But I really didn't care for the ship at all. I was probably most irritated by the Internet Café, which was virtually a waste of time and money. I foolishly bought a nonrefundable $75 package for the internet, not knowing that the ship has a notoriously poor satellite connection. In 85 minutes I was able to send one email. I understand that when you are in the middle of the Pacific sometimes the connection will be slow, but the connection was never good, and as this became increasingly clear to the passengers the internet café eventually became a deserted room and remained so for the length of the cruise. If you are planning on taking a cruise on this ship, you might want to just wait to go to an internet café in port. It's cheaper and faster.
Since it is named the Diamond Princess one might expect the ship would sparkle, but sadly it doesn't. A little bit of spit and polish, somewindow washing and the replacement of some furniture in the Lido buffet would help. It is a huge ship which houses 2,670 passengers but the ship is stingy in the space it allocates in the common areas. The ceilings are low in the seemingly windowless dining rooms. The gym is ridiculously small, claustrophobic. The theatre doesn't have enough seats to accommodate the passengers in two sittings so they offer a matinee performance so everyone has a chance to see a production.
Aside from the string quartet which played in the atrium, this cruise seemed to lack even the marginal shades of elegance I normally associate with cruising. I don't expect to cruise on Princess again, even though this last cruise would entitle me to the next level of benefits for frequent travel. If they had honored my complaint at the purser's desk by giving me some credit for the internet, I might feel differently about Princess. As it stands, I wouldn't recommend this line to anyone.