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RJ Tipp

Age: 43

Occupation:Business Owner

Number of Cruises: 6

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Caribbean Princess

Sailing Date: March 4, 2007

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean

We booked the Caribbean Princess for my wife's birthday hoping for a very special celebration. It was mildly disappointing. We've cruised on several different cruise lines over the years and expected much better from Princess. Here's the breakdown.

The ship was lovely and well kept although a little confusing at times, occasionally you had to go up, to go down. We booked a little late so were stuck with an obstructed view cabin though we tried for a balcony. Truthfully this was not an issue. The obstructed view was really not all that obstructed.

The pools were clean and you could usually find a deck chair without a problem. We loved the Movies Under The Stars. The Princess Theater shows didn't appeal to us too much. The hypnotist was entertaining. One comedian we saw was really not funny. Almost inappropriate in his material. Ironically we saw him at the purser's desk the next day screaming about his cabin charges!

The food was mostly terrible. The pizza by the pool was good and extremely convenient for those lay by the pool days. The buffet lines were long and disorganized. A lot of people didn't behave very well but that's not Princess' fault. They just should have been more organized. We were on the Anytime Dining program, a first for us. We finally figured out that the problem with this program is the wait staff. They don't develop a relationship with the passengers since they aren't with them every day. Some nights you just pointed to the menu because the servers didn't or didn't try to speak English. The upside of this program it really is convenient to decide to eat when your are hungry rather than 8PM every night. Tuesday night the service was the worst. It took several hours to get served and the staff just really didn't care. One older couple at our table became very upset because they were trying to make it to the Piano Man show and ended up missing it. Saturday night there were several hairs on my wife's chicken. That pretty much ruined everything for the entire table. One night we tried the Sterling Steakhouse. The food was fabulous and the service much better than in the regular dining rooms. There is a $15 per person surcharge for this though.

We did have an issue with some purchases we made in St Maarten. We were advised to have our packages from the Belgium Chocolate Shop delivered to the ship rather than carry them in the hot sun. We were assured that everything would be fine. When out packages hadn't arrived late that evening we called the pursers desk. They advised to wait for them to contact us before 9A the next morning. We waited until 11A and then called. They were rude and not very helpful at all. By this point we had blown half our day in St Thomas so decided to go into town for a while. When we returned the purser's desk advised that we needed to talk to the woman who conducted the shopping seminars and she would be available at her desk at 5P. We waited until about 6P and no one showed up. Finally one of the guys from the dive desk asked if we needed something. When I explained who I was waiting for he let us know that she would actually not be available again for 2 days. He tracked her down and a couple of days later our packages were located and left in our cabin. The whole experience was a little frustrating.

The thing that made me most upset is that Princess advertises celebrations. When I booked they asked if we were celebrating anything? I told them it was my wife's birthday and the reservation agent advised that they would do a birthday cake for her at dinner and the cabin steward would decorate our door for her birthday. I know this doesn't sound like a big deal, but for me it really was. My wife always does everything for everybody. I wanted to surprise her for once. Every time I walked up and down the hallways I saw happy birthday balloons, happy anniversary decorations, etc.....They were all done a little different and I was excited anticipating what was to be done for my wife. I'm glad she didn't know about it because they did nothing. No birthday cake, no balloons, nothing. If they aren't going to really do it, they shouldn't offer it. I would have brought something onboard had I known they hadn't been truthful. My wife said no big deal when I finally told her. She was happy with the ring we got, but it still bothered me a lot.

All in all the cruise was disappointing, though it certainly didn't ruin our vacation. We were in the Caribbean away from work, so nothing could have ruined that! It seemed like there was an employee moral problem that week. It was obvious they were short staffed. The bar service people didn't know what many drinks were. One advised that she was actually a bus person, and they just made her come out to the pool to serve drinks. I just think in the future I will stick to Royal Caribbean. We have never been disappointed with them before.

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