Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Caribbean Princess
Sailing Date: September 16, 2007
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
My wife and I had a wonderful Western Caribbean cruise on the Caribbean Princess from Sept. 16th to Sept. 23rd. It was her second cruise – her first was also on the Caribbean Princess. It was my first cruise.
We booked our cruise through Adams Travel in our hometown of Adams, MA. We’ve traveled with this agency quite a bit and had great luck. All of our travel arrangements, flights, etc., went off without a hitch.
At first, the size of a ship like the Caribbean Princess surprised me, the newcomer to cruising. It’s a bit of a challenge figuring out where you are for the first couple of days. But the ship has very functional maps outside of each elevator station that surprisingly actually help to successfully describe where you are and where you want to go.
We had a room with a balcony on the Caribe deck. The balcony on this deck level seemed to be a bit roomier than the balconies on the levels immediately below and above us, but I’m not sure if that’s true. At any rate, it was great and we spent a lot of time out there just watching the beautifully scenic views of the sky and ocean.
The food was fantastic. We actually preferred the buffets to the sit-down restaurants. It was a lot of fun choosing from such a wide menu. The desserts were out of this world. And I can say unequivocally that each and every item was well-prepared and far above the usual food one associates with a large-scale buffet. It could be a little challenging finding a table for two, but we always managed. Occasionally, especially at breakfast, we shared a table which turned out to be fun.
There is a dress code at the sit-down restaurants – they call it dress casual or something like that. From what I gathered, it simply meant no shorts plus collared shirts for the men. Reasonable enough. The sit-down restaurants function either by reservation or on a walk-in basis. Even on very busy nights, without a reservation, we never had to wait more than ten or fifteen minutes for a table for two. And if we had been more willing to share seating, we would have had no wait at all. There was one restaurant that functioned on a reservation only, more arranged schedule, but we never went there. There are also two restaurants which require reservations and charge a fee, but we never made it to them either. There were also two formal nights which we worked around. Too dressy for us, but it was fun watching all the tuxes and evening gowns floating around.
The entertainment was also a surprise – it was good. We have spent vacations at several Caribbean resorts and the Caribbean Princess’ on-board entertainment was definitely a notch above what we have experienced there. We saw two great comics/musicians, a really fun hypnotist and a great magic/comedy act. I can only remember the names of the two music/comedy acts because we saw each of these guys twice - Steve Moris was great, as was Carl Strong. Moris is a talented guitarist and joke teller. Strong’s first show was a comedy-central type act – very funny. His second show on the last night was a wildly energetic Motown-oriented musical/comedy act that was very funny and very entertaining. We loved it!
The Caribbean Princess knows its clientele. There are a couple of pools where it seems that it’s all loud music and party games, but there are also a couple of pools that are adults-only. The music is pleasant and enjoyable and there are ample spots to park on deck chairs in either shade or sun. We spent many pleasant hours dozing and reading in the pool area at the very back of the ship.
The outdoor movie screen is fun, but the audio seems to lose a lot in the human voice frequency. We only watched one movie, Casino Royale, but much of the dialogue was inaudible and unintelligible.
The first stop the Caribbean Princess made was at a private beach they call Princess Cays on Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas. We more or less knew what to expect here because the Sandals we once stayed at in Nassau had a similar deal. Princess Cays was well run, the meal ashore was good and the snorkeling was surprisingly good – nice selection of fish. I even saw two stingrays.
The two shore excursions we did were good and as advertised, especially the Stingray tour with Allura at Grand Cayman. What a blast! I was a little worried when our catamaran first pulled up because there was a crowd of tour boats there, but it was no problem. We were able to spend ample time with the strange beasts. The Allura’s crew was very friendly and casual and informative. The other tour we took was a beach day at a day resort in Cozumel. No great shakes, but we knew what to expect. It met our expectations and it was as advertised.
The most negative moment on the whole trip was going ashore at Ocho Rios in Jamaica. There’s no other word besides creepy to describe the experience. We didn’t have a shore excursion booked, but thought we might walk around a little and see what was what. We were back on the ship in less than a couple of hours.
The most positive experience of the trip, after the quality of the food, was the steward service in our room. Our steward, Jaeda, was absolutely a gem. She was polite and genuinely responsive to our requests. As a matter of fact, we didn’t have any bad staff experiences. We booked our Cozumel shore excursion literally minutes before it was due to take off and the tour person was calm, cool and collected about it. The crew also gets points for moving large numbers of people very efficiently whenever we disembarked for shore.
Our Caribbean Princess cruise was a great time and we would certainly recommend one to anyone. We’ve only been home a few days and we’re checking cruise itineraries for ’08!