Number of Cruises: 26
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Caribbean Princess
Sailing Date: n/a
Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean
My husband and I embarked the Caribbean Princess for a 7 night Eastern Caribbean cruise on November 6. It was our fourth cruise on a Princess Grand-Class ship and our 26th cruise overall. We have previously cruised with Celebrity, RCCL, NCL, Costa, HAL, Carnival, Premier, Commodore. We have spent the most time on Celebrity but once we started with Princess on the Grand, we have quickly sailed with them 3 more times. We like the formality of Celebrity and the flexibility of Princess – so we tend to favor those two lines the most.
To give you some perspective, we are semi-retired, in our late 50’s and 60’s and have recently moved back to the Chicago area from Naples, FL after living there for 10 years. While living in FL we cruised 3-5 times a year since it was so easy to get to the port and we were able to go at the last minute. We had many enjoyable experiences doing that. This time we had to fly and worry about weather etc. I booked the air on Spirit – all went well and it was a pleasure to fly with them to get to Fort Lauderdale. We had the first flight out in the morning the day of the cruise and were on time landing in FLL. Coming home, we had a 6pm flight. We didn’t have to worry about dis-embarking, but the Fort Lauderdale airport is just not set up for a lot of people waiting there for flights. The next time, we will arrange to stay a few days in Florida after the cruise and then fly back to Chicago.
Upon arrival in Fort Lauderdale, we got a taxi and went to the port – it was raining heavily and the line was indoors – we began moving quickly and were on board by 12:30 pm. We found our cabin easily – we had been upgraded from an inside guarantee to an obstructed view outside on Emerald Deck – E216. The lifeboat hanging by the window did not obstruct our view at all and we enjoyed the cabin very much. Our steward, Alfredo, was attentive and obtained robes and feather pillows for us. He kept our cabin in tip-top condition.
We went up to the Lido Deck for the Welcome Aboard lunch which was very good. On the Caribbean Princess, there is the addition of the Café Caribe at the rear of the Horizon Court. There the menu is different than the Horizon Court and in the evening and during the night dinner and Bistro dining is served there. This addition has cut into the outside deck space above the pool aft. There are some tables and chairs and the bar remains there – but without all the space that is there on the Grand and the Golden. This space, however, remains a favourite place of ours to read and enjoy the out of doors. The pool there is an adult only pool which makes the area even more attractive to us.
We also had dinner that night in the Café Caribe which served a wonderful seafood buffet consisting of Lobster Claws, King Crab, Shrimp along with other great food – It was excellent.
As for food overall, we had breakfast only once in the dining room – the menu is a bit limited – the Horizon Court always had a good variety of food and my husband especially liked the French Toast served there. Lunch we had mostly in the Horizon court or Café Caribe – they served Sushi there a couple of times which was most enjoyable. We did have lunch in the dining room twice when the menu had something we especially liked on it. Both breakfast and lunch are served daily in the Coral dining room on Deck 6.
Since we had PC dining, we tried the different dining rooms and also had an additional dinner in Café Caribe. The food in every instance was very good and the service was very good. We rarely had to wait for a table and then only about 10 minutes at peak dining times. We did make a reservation in the Palm dining room once and were seated immediately. We choose to have a table for two for dinner – but one night joined a delightful couple that we had met that afternoon. All in all – our dining experience was what we were expecting on Princess and we enjoyed it thoroughly. We also found the drinks in the bars to be fairly priced. We like one cocktail either before or with dinner and there were a number of places to enjoy those. My husband likes a good cigar and Churchill’s is the cigar bar on board. It is a very masculine, clubby-feeling room. We did not go to the other optional dining venues on board – so I can’t speak to the food or service there.
We don’t cruise to be entertained and rarely go to the shows. We did enjoy Bert Stratton thoroughly and saw him every chance we got and we went to one show in the Princess Theater that featured a comedian/magician which was good. The weather did not co-operate for Movies Under the Stars – so we did not attend in the evenings. The features we wanted to see were rained out.
Ports – San Juan was substituted for Princess Cays and was at the beginning of the cruise after a day at sea. We began approaching about 3 pm and were docked by 4 pm. This is a port we enjoy and we got off the ship immediately. We walked through Old San Juan shopping and had a very enjoyable visit – we were back on the ship by about 7 pm and then sampled the Bavarian Buffet in Café Caribe. The food was excellent and they also had a New Orleans style shrimp in addition to the Bavarian foods.
St. Thomas was our next port. We have been there many times and like to walk into Charlotte Amalie. It is a 2 ½ mile walk and the weather was perfect. We spent the late morning and early afternoon hours shopping and then walked back to the ship. The next port was St. Maarten – which is our favourite in the Caribbean – both for the flavor of the two diverse cultures on the island as well as for the shopping. We have friends on the island and they picked us up outside the gates of the pier area – after visiting with them at their home, they dropped us back in Phillipsburg for some shopping. Front Street is under construction – it is about 60% finished and will be really nice when completed. This is an island that is constantly improving itself and we always enjoy visiting there.
As you can tell, we are not beach people. We have been to all the beaches on the islands on this itinerary and have been to St. John’s as well. They are all beautiful and enjoyable. We especially enjoy Caneel Bay on St. John’s island and if we were going to go to a beach, that is the one we would go to.
After we left St. Maarten, the seas turned very rough during the night and all the next day. We are not prone to seasickness, but many people were. On Friday the weather improved and was just beautiful and we spent an enjoyable day around various pools visiting with newly-made friends.
All in all this was another excellent cruise. Caribbean Princess is a beautiful ship with some differences from the other Grand-class ships in the fleet. I would have to say the Golden is my favourite – but they are all beautiful. Our Captain was Guiseppe Romano who had been the Captain of our first Grand Princess cruise. The cruise director was James Lay . We particularly like Graham Seymour and missed him on this cruise.
Disembarking was easy – our flight wasn’t until 6 pm so we didn’t have to hurry off the ship. Our color was one of the last called. We found our baggage easily, went through customs easily and then got in the mob-scene to get a cab. In the future, we will make arrangements to spend a few days in Florida before going home so that we don’t have to join all the cruisers flying out at the same time.
Please feel free to email me at email@example.com with any questions you may have about this ship or cruise. We had a great time and will certainly cruise with Princess again.