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Matt Barkhurst

Age: 27


Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Caribbean Princess

Sailing Date: July 29, 2006

Itinerary: Eastern/Western Caribbean

My wife booked this cruise as a celebration of my finishing the bar exam. I had never been on a cruise before and was a little leery of spending two weeks on a ship. My wife has done an Alaskan cruise and assured me I would enjoy it. She was right. I loved cruising and am looking forward to our next cruise.

The Caribbean Princess was great. We were booked on the Caribe Deck, room 752 on the very back of the ship. Our cabin was great and actually bigger than I had imagined it. We loved having a cabin on the back of the ship as we always had a good view of the port no matter which side of the ship was docked. However, the back of the ship does move A LOT more than the other areas of the ship, so if you are prone to sea sickness, you might want to avoid this area.

All of the public areas were very nicely decorated, very classy and more traditional, not a lot of bright flashy colors. The pools were all very good. The pool by the Movies Under the Stars screen is very noisy with movies playing all day and children playing. We used the Lotus Spa pool most days. It is adults only which made it perfect for taking a quick dip to cool off and enjoy the water without being splashed and jostled by kids. The pool on the rear of the ship was also very nice, but if you want to lay in the sun much of this area is shaded by Skywalker’s Lounge.

The casino was a good size and I had a lot of fun giving my money away at the blackjack tables. My wife enjoyed the variety of slot machines, especially the penny ones.

The overall layout of the ship is very nice and is fairly easy to navigate. We felt comfortable going anywhere and not getting lost within the first day or so.

I thought the food on the ship was great, but my wife thought that the food on her Carnival cruise was better. Part of this is probably that she likes more classic dishes, whereas I enjoy trying new “weird” dishes.

The buffets were a little disappointing. For lunch we often wanted a deli sandwich, but they didn’t put this out until after 3:00 most days. Breakfast buffets were very good with a wide selection, but dinner buffets often seemed to offer only limited choices. Also, there was no midnight buffet, which my wife had raved about from her Carnival cruise.

Dinner in the dining room was great. Each night offered a wide variety appetizers, entrees, and desserts. I often tried multiple things each night.

The pizza and grill place next to the pools was also a great place to pick up lunch or a snack, but they did not stay open into the evening, so there was no late-night pizza available.

We were also disappointed that the ice cream was not free whenever you wanted it. It was included at dinner, but the ice cream place next to the pools was never free. Also, I don’t know if this is standard with all cruise lines, but I was disappointed that I had to pay for pop. You could buy a Coke card for $35, but I opted to just drink water and tea.

The entertainment on board was great. We really enjoyed Bert with a B in the Crooner’s lounge. Because we were onboard for two weeks we got to see almost everything we wanted to see. We did the shows in the Princess Theater most nights and enjoyed almost everything. The different comedians were really good. We also went to the Explorer’s Lounge most nights for their shows. We also attended an art auction while on board and enjoyed it a lot. Make sure you go to the first one for the free champagne. Tim, the cruise director, was awesome. It seems he’s everywhere. The pool games were a lot of fun as well. I participated in the drink mixing contest and had a blast!

The service on the ship was very good. Our cabin steward, Angelito, was great! We never had to ask for a thing and our room was always made up while we were away. Our waiters were also very good. We opted for the traditional dining, which was nice. We heard others complain that the Anytime Dining wasn’t as great as Princess makes it out to be, because it could often be difficult to get a table, even with a reservation. We did the late dining each week and had a lot of fun with everyone seated at our table.

Princess Cays - Princess’ private island was great. The snorkeling here was very good and the beach was very nice for relaxing. The BBQ buffet that is provided was also very good, but be sure to get there during the posted times, because they do close it at the exact time stated and will not let you into the line after that time.

Ocho Rios - we booked the catamaran cruise to Dunn's River Falls through Princess. This excursion was a blast. We took the catamaran to the falls and climbed as a group. If you have never climbed the falls here, it is an absolute must. After our climb, we hopped back on the catamaran and sailed back to the ship. The crew provided lots of free rum drinks and we had great time dancing to the reggae music.

Grand Cayman - we booked a trip to Stingray City with Moby Dick tours. This is by far the way to do Stingray City. There were only about 20 people on our boat as compared to 100 or so on the other groups that were out there. Our guides were great and had as kissing and holding the stingrays by the end of the trip. Overall, I was disappointed with Cayman. The shopping is great, but only if you are looking for high end merchandise. If you want normal souvenir type things, you’ll be disappointed. Also, much of the island was still in pretty bad shape from a previous hurricane.

Cozumel - We booked a trip to swim with the dolphins through Princess. We went to Chankanaab National Park by taxi, where we had a chance to swim with Madonna (our dolphin). Our package included a hug, kiss, and a fin pull. Also, we had snorkel gear and got to interact with her under water. This was our favorite excursion by far and well worth the more expensive price.

St. Thomas - We booked a snorkel trip to Buck Island through Princess and it was very good. We sailed on a pirate ship out to Buck Island and got to snorkel with sea turtles. The trip back was also a lot of fun with the crew of the Dubloon filling us with rum drinks and entertaining us. Also, they have a shop on shore where you can go all day for free drinks. Definitely a great excursion. St. Thomas was beautiful and one of our favorite stops.

St. Maarten - This was the only port where we did not have an organized excursion booked. We did some shopping on the Dutch side and then took a cab to Orient Beach on the French side. As a tip, make sure you get the cost of the taxi up front and be sure to haggle to get the best deal. Orient Beach was breathtaking. The water was the most beautiful we saw in the Caribbean. We did walk down to the nude area. We didn’t join in going au naturel, but we did enjoy sunbathing on this section of the beach because merchants aren’t allowed to sell their goods here. Just don’t be rude and gawk.

We thoroughly enjoyed Princess and the Caribbean Princess and I would recommend it to anyone.

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