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Brad

Age: 30

Occupation:Small Business Owner

Number of Cruises: 4

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Caribbean Princess

Sailing Date: 2009-06-29

Itinerary: NY to Bermuda and the Caribbean

Our recent vacation on the Caribbean Princess fell well below our expectations. My wife and I decided to celebrate our anniversary with a cruise (her first and my fourth). We left on 6-29-09 for our nine night cruise from NY to Bermuda and the Caribbean.

The first indication that our vacation was going to be a disappointment occurred during embarkation – we arrived on time with all travel documents ready, bags tagged, etc. We were given a number and told to wait in a crowded room for 2+ hours before our number was called to board the boat. We were told the delay was caused by high tide. We felt that was a poor excuse as high tide occurs everyday (they acted as if it was a surprise high tide!) and if you are going to run a cruise line you should be able to figure out a way to load regardless of the tide.

We had booked a balcony stateroom. Upon arrival we saw the bed skirt and sheets had stains on them and the bed was terribly lumpy and saggy. These issues were resolved fairly quickly. The room was far smaller than a balcony stateroom on my previous Royal Caribbean cruise which had room for a sofa and coffee table. A room with these amenities on the Caribbean Princess would be called a “mini-suite” and be pricier.

A passenger services person called us shortly after we got to our room to inform us that one of our bags had fallen in the water during the loading process! Yes, our bag fell in the East River! How a cruise ship company can let that happen is beyond me. Sure enough, our bag was delivered to our stateroom and it was torn and full of stinky water. They offered to launder the clothes; however this bag contained all of our shoes so the solution wasn't quite so simple. After several phone calls to the ships passenger services desk we were informed that the main office of Princess Cruises felt the fault was actually with the longshoremen who were employed by the port and that Princess Cruises would not immediately reimburse us for the damaged bag and stained shoes. The passenger services person on the Caribbean Princess advised us to “fight” for reimbursement from the main office upon returning from our vacation. This uncertainty hung over us for the entire trip. What a lousy way to treat customers.

The ship itself was okay. The common areas were surprisingly lack-luster. The dining rooms have low ceilings and are not memorable. There is no large promenade as on Royal Caribbean's newer ships. The pools were nice and were kept clean. The "movies under the stars" feature was nice and we watched several movies.

The boat felt very overcrowded and we couldn't figure out if it was too many people for a boat of its size or a poor layout. There were 3,301 passengers, 200 more than the 3,100 passengers stated on their website. This included 600-700 kids. There were lines for almost everything passenger services, buffet dining, regular dining, activities, etc. We got so fed up with trying to find lounge chairs that we tried to pay for them in the "sanctuary" area, surprise, the sanctuary was completely sold out for the day. We asked them what time we should come in the morning so as to be able to get chairs for the day and were told to come at 8am, when they open and start taking reservations. My wife woke up early (actually setting an alarm on our vacation) got to the “Sanctuary” at 7:40 only to be told that people had arrived at 7am and their 24 chairs were full even before they opened. We couldn't even pay Princess for a lounge chair which is completely absurd! We ended up spending the day on the balcony of our stateroom.

This leads us into another topic – charging for almost everything. We were surprised to learn that fitness programs (spinning class, yoga, pilates, etc.) all had fees to participate. There was a fee for a decent cup of coffee (the coffee in the buffet was similar to the East River water in my shoes). If you wanted better than average food you had to eat at one of their specialty restaurants for a fee. Soda fee. Food delivered to your room fee. Pottery class fee. Almost everything highlighted in their Princess Patter itinerary each day had a nominal fee which will apply.

In summary, our vacation was a flop. It seems the head honchos at Princess Cruises decided to weather this recession by lowering their rates, overbooking their ships, and nickel and diming their customers for things that should be included. It was the worst vacation we've taken in awhile.

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