Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Caribbean Princess
Sailing Date: February 19th, 2005
Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean
This review is quite a bit belated, but I’ve used this site over the last few months so much in planning my honeymoon cruise (aboard the Carnival Conquest in April 2006) that I wanted to help other potential cruisers considering using Princess.
Overall, I can say without a doubt that the week my fiance and I spent on the Caribbean Princess was the best vacation of my life. Of course, there was an added bonus because I got engaged during the trip ;) but even if I hadn’t, I would have had a wonderful time.
Heading down to Fort Lauderdale from Detroit, our flight was delayed and we were a bit panicky that we would miss the boat. Since we booked the airfare through Princess, we would have been flown to the first port if we would have missed the boat, but who wants to do that? In the future, we will always fly down a day ahead of schedule just to avoid the hassle.
Boarding was no big deal; completing the online registration form ahead of time definitely sped up the process. Stepping into the main atrium, I was stunned; it’s gorgeous, with multiple stories and carved dolphins and sea life surrounding the elevator shafts. People who have been on many cruises may not be as fascinated by the aesthetics as I was, but to me, as a first-time cruiser, I was just blown away.
ACCOMODATIONS AND AMENITIES
Our room was oceanview obstructed, which meant there was a giant tangerine-orange tender boat right in front of our window. But it wasn’t a problem; we were just happy to be able to see the water and be able to tell what time of day it was. I was curious to see how small the room was, because I’m a bit claustrophobic, but it was more than sufficient for the amount of time we actually spent in there.
Our steward was named Choosit, and he was from Thailand. He introduced himself the first afternoon, but other than that, we rarely saw him. Yet, our room was always spotless. I was amazed at how stealthy the stewards were. They were great!
The food was fabulous. We usually ate at the buffet in the morning and for lunch, then in the formal dining room for dinner. We usually ate dinner rather early so we could enjoy the late night buffet. ;) The selection at dinner was always very good and the desserts, especially the crème brulee and cheesecake, were excellent. We found the pizzeria and grill near the pool to be just average. We didn’t eat at the specialty restaurants where you had to pay cover, but I hear they were very good.
There was a wide range of entertainment available, and it was kind of hit or miss. We always checked in the “Princess Patter” newsletter each night and planned out the next day. Some of the comedy shows were so bad that we walked out; others were so good, we were nearly in tears. Surprisingly, there was a very entertaining juggler and some other offbeat entertainment. We even hit an art auction just to see what it was like. There definitely were many options for all ages and interests.
There were a lot of kids in the pools – I got my head jumped on the very first day – so we pretty much stuck with the adults only pool, which was a little chilly because it was aft, underneath the nightclub. But it was near a bar, and the banana daiquiris on the ship are fabulous! ;) We managed to ring up quite a tab on our ship card by the end of the week. The pools and hot tubs on Princess are freshwater, which I hear is very rare on cruise ships, so I guess we were spoiled! :) I’ll never forget the first time I got saltwater in my mouth while snorkeling at St. Maarten…I had no idea it would be that disgusting. :) So the freshwater pools were a definite plus.
I only have a few complaints. It was absolutely impossible to find a deck chair unless it was in a windy or shaded area. We had to circle the ship forever and pounce before we could find two chairs together. Also, the pedicure I got at the spa was a complete rip off. Although the vast majority of the ship employees, most of whom were from foreign countries, were charming and helpful, my Canadian pedicurist snapped gum and talked to a co-worker during my entire pedicure, and it wasn’t worth the money. But, perhaps if I would have had a different employee, I would have had a better experience. We loved the outdoor movie concept, but unfortunately we were saddled with a Jennifer Lopez movie and “Beyonce in Concert” pretty much all week. :)
We hit St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Princess Cays during the week. We liked St. Thomas, but the salespeople are aggressive and people were following me around, asking me to braid my hair. We took a bus tour of the island as our shore excursion, and I thought we were going to die because the driver was speeding and careening around corners. But apparently that’s how they drive there, because I’ve had multiple people tell me they had the same experience. :) We got some beautiful shots of the island’s awesome beaches from our vantage point, so it was worth it.
At St. Maarten, we did the shipwreck snorkel shore excursion and it was definitely worth every dollar. None of our underwater pictures came out, but we had a fantastic time. It was my first time snorkeling. I must warn, though, that you are going out into deep water. Some people didn’t seem to know what they were in for and were panicking as they got into the water, floundering and kicking everywhere. I got quite a few flippers in the face from the panicking people. ;) There also were many kids, and I wouldn’t recommend it for children, unless they’re very comfortable in the water. There were a lot of wailing kids who were afraid to get off the boat. Basically, if you don’t like deep water, and you don’t like fish getting up close and personal with you, this is NOT the excursion for you. But I thought it was great. The guide let us hold a starfish and some other kinds of sea life. Very, very cool!
At Princess Cays, we just relaxed on the beach and went snorkeling again. The water is much shallower there, so better suited for the fearful swimmers. The outdoor barbecue put on by Princess was very good.
For people who like to shop, especially for jewelry, there were constant shows running on TV that told you the best shops at all the ports and how to find the genuine gemstones, etc. It was very informative. You could also go to the customer service desk and speak to the woman who did the presentations if you had any questions.
Getting off the ship was kind of a mess. But I’m very impatient ;) and it was my first cruise, so maybe it’s always like that. Our bags all got out, safe and sound. But to speed the process along in the future, I’m planning to only bring a carry on. I didn’t really need the huge bag that I brought, anyway. :)
A FINAL NOTE…
For anyone who suffers from motion sickness as I do, I recommend getting Transderm patches and wearing them the entire trip. We hit some rough seas during the first few days, and some people were looking a little green. I got nauseous right away, but once I put the patch on, I was fine the rest of the time, even when we were tendering to Princess Cays and bouncing around on the ocean like crazy. The patches last three days each, and stay on even in the water. I saw lots of other people with them on, and I was thankful I had them. It was much better than having to pop pills the entire time.
In general, the Caribbean Princess is a gorgeous ship with a great staff, great food and very good entertainment. I had even more fun just hanging out and exploring the ship than I did stopping at ports! :) Don’t miss the aft nightclub; the drinks are expensive, but it’s a fun place to hang out after hours. It’ll definitely be a hard experience to beat, but we’ll see when I hit the Western Caribbean on the Carnival Conquest in April.
Feel free to contact me with any questions!