Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Caribbean Princess
Sailing Date: August 12, 2006
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
My college-bound 18 year-old daughter and I just returned from our second cruise, the first being two years ago on a Celebrity ship. We had a good time, but definitely not the caliber of service we received on Celebrity. Embarkation (at least for Aloha deck) was chaos; they must have suggested everyone “arrive after 2:00 to avoid long lines.” There was no formal “welcome to the ship” once on board and people were bumping into one another trying to find their cabins. Only one of the three main dining rooms caters to designated seating hours, which we requested pre-cruise but did not receive. That necessitated making dinner reservations each evening, and missing out on the experience of sharing the day’s stories with our table-mates. This was not a big deal, but we were disappointed nonetheless. We had a good experience in the Sterling Steakhouse, but the couple sitting across from us declared it one of the worst meals they’d had. We made spa reservations in advance of the trip; when we got there, most of our appointments were cancelled, rescheduled or no longer offered. Go figure. The treatments we did receive were very nice, if a little pricey. We hardly ever saw our cabin steward, which in our case was okay, unlike other guests, we never got an origami towel creation in our room. Ice machines usually weren’t working, and iced tea was nothing more than weakly flavored water. Empty plates and glasses were routinely spotted sitting on the floor or tables around the ship waiting to be picked up, the servers seemed more attentive in the buffet area.
Pool chairs were at a premium when the ship was at sea, this was to be expected, especially around the movie screen. We thoroughly enjoyed our shore excursions, we did the zip line adventure in Ocho Rios, I highly recommend it (too many stories for us of people falling at Dunns River Falls (and too crowded); in Grand Cayman, we spent more time on an overcrowded pontoon boat to and from the stingray area than in the water with the stingray, but oh well. In Cozumel, we did the climbing wall/snorkeling trip. One family bowed out of the climbing trip before we even left, saying the description of the tour was misleading, since the brochure listed it as “rock” climbing. Personally, scaling a 60-foot climbing tower was fine with me. Guides were a little rough around the edges, but amusing and tried hard. My daughter declared it the best day of the trip. Since there were only 5 of us, snorkeling was relaxed and we were the only ones at this particular stretch of beach.
I was sitting by the rear window on the tender back to ship from dock in Grand Cayman, when our boat (due to pilot error) ran into another tender still parked at the dock. The fiberglass hull of our boat cracked and the entire window shattered and popped out. While I immediately acknowledged to my fellow passengers that I was not hurt, no one from the boat’s tender inquired whether we were okay, and in fact were laughing about it. The tender was kept in service for the rest of the trip. When I approached two different Princess employees (one at the Passenger Service desk) about this incident when back on the ship, I was treated with disinterest and lack of concern. I wasn’t expecting anything from them (although a free glass of wine for having the daylights scared out of me might have been nice), so thought their treatment (or lack thereof) of this incident was “interesting.”
All in all, we had a good time. If you want a bit more personalized service, however, my limited cruising experience would point me back to Celebrity.