Claire & Alan Smith
Age: 45 & 55
Number of Cruises: First one!
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Caribbean Princess
Sailing Date: June 17, 2006
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Well, having just returned from our first ever cruise taken to celebrate our silver wedding, I must admit to already searching to go back next year. The whole experience was magnificent apart from a couple of things that were not directly the responsibility of the cruise line but more of that later. Having read the most recent review for this ship I must admit wondering whether we were actually on the same ship? The ship was operating to capacity but it never felt crowded although we did spend most of our time ashore or at the adult only pools - merely because we did not want noise and pool games - this was our choice as all the entertainment you could ever need was there all day and for most of the night.
Our steward, Toon, was faultless - he was never intrusive and our stateroom was always clean and tidy even with all our belongings strewn everywhere! We did have folded towels but you need to request this service - do attend the towel and napkin folding display it is really interesting the shapes they make out of a few towels!
The food and service was gold star - cannot really discuss alcohol prices etc as we tended to have a bottle of wine at dinner and maybe the "bucket" of beer if we were thirsty during the day. Formal evenings were lovely - it was so nice to see everyone make the effort to dress up - I never thought I would see my husband in a tux! One warning - the official photographs are good but very expensive - we only bought 3 but would have loved to buy more but not possible on a limited budget.
The crew come from all over the world and were all friendly and enjoyed spending time chatting to us - especially Belinda who was part of the entertainment team - say Hi from the Brits who won the trivia quiz if you see her!
Beware of the shopping "discount" book the Savvy Traveler - the shopping talk in the theatre on your 1st day at sea mainly concentrates on Cozumel - if you are booked to go on any trip to the mainland in Mexico you will not go to Cozumel - do not buy the book it is a con to get you to spend $20 although the seminar is good fun and Carrie knows her stuff.
If you are thinking of taking an excursion whilst in Mexico avoid the tulum and xel-ha lagoon trip. you have a mile long hike to reach your coach when you leave the ship, you then are taken for a "rest" stop to a large Mexican souvenir shop for about 20-25 minutes - no need for this stop!. When you reach Tulum you then have another 20 min. walk from the coach park to the ruins unless you take the land train for $2 dollars return - take it!!! Our guide disappeared on us as we were walking a bit slower than everyone else due to my legs and feet having swollen to tree trunk size!! We have some lovely photos of the ruins but not a clue what they are!! Lunch is also inedible - buy some snacks if you can! The lagoon is lovely when you have been walking around ruins in the heat of the midday sun but disappointing that you don't get snorkeling equipment included in cost of the trip. You will then have another hike from the coach to the ship on your return.
British Airways was also a disappointment - the service was not brilliant and the food was inedible also - we have written to Princess because they are obviously buying in these services and they are spoiling the service we received directly from Princess cruises and all their staff which were excellent and we could not fault them in any way at all.
All in all a once in a lifetime trip that I hope we will be able to repeat one day. Thank You Caribbean Princess!