Age: 51 to 60
Occupation:Health Services Manager
Number of Cruises: 1st
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Dawn Princess
Sailing Date: n/a
Itinerary: Southern Caribbean
This was our first cruise and my husband and I were filled with excitement and trepidation. For this reason, and as I had only 1 weeks holiday to spare, we only took the 7 day option as we thought that if we really hated the experience this was not too long a time to tolerate it. Most of the trepidation was following some of the negative reviews we had read on these pages, the excitement was for fairly obvious reasons.
My husband had taken quite a bit of persuading to go on a cruise in the first place as he had imagined that there would be some guy blowing a whistle to round up reluctant people who did not wish to join in the imagined regimented activities. As it turned out nothing could have been further from the truth. The whole cruise was 'do what you like, when you like'.
We left the UK for San Juan early on the Saturday morning and were extremely pleased to be informed that as we had reserved a mini-suite we would be upgraded to the the Premier section of the cabin where there was much greater leg and bum space.
The 9 hour flight was a drag but uneventful. We arrived at San Juan airport, however, to find that two flights had arrived at the same time and that the facilities in the arrivals hall were totally inadequate. (This was not the fault of Princess) The immigration procedure was somewhat complicated and the surly official appeared to take delight in sending folk to the back of the queue to revise their documents.
Once through immigration, however, we were taken straight to the ship. What an awesome sight she was from the quayside! She was like a block of flats! Boarding was fairly straightforward and we were shown to our wonderful mini-suite which was right on the stern of the ship.
The cabin was really large and well appointed. We had a sitting area with a bar and fridge and a large balcony. We had a really comfortable queen size bed. As I have a back problem I usually return from holiday feeling worse than when I went, but not on this occasion. There were so many drawers and cupboards that we constantly lost track of where we had stowed our possessions. The enormous marble bathroom had a jacuzzi, handbasin and shower with a separate loo and a further handbasin.
Our luggage arrived about 1 hour later, together with our very attentive cabin steward.
The whole ship was a delight. We found the food in the Venetian Restaurant to be excellent. I do not know how anyone could be dissatisfied with either the food or the service, but then some folk are never happy. There are so few occasions to 'dress up' now that it was really good fun to 'go to town' on the formal nights. Most people in the Venetian Restaurant entered into the spirit of the occasion and there was a good showing of 'posh frocks' and tuxedos/dinner jackets.
The Horizon Court was not up to the standard of the restaurant and the hot food served was not very hot most of the time. This was possibly due to the service being on plastic crockery, but I can well understand that if a tropical storm should blow up the crockery might decorate the deck.
Our fellow passengers were mainly middle class, middle aged, like us. The majority were American, most of whom were a delight. There was a fairly large British contingent and a minority of other nationalities.
The only fly in the ointment was on the last morning. We were asked to attend for flight ticketing by deck and we were given the time of 07.00. People were asked not to attend outside the stipulated time as this might cause confusion. When we arrived at 06.45 however, we discovered that we were amongst the last to check in as those 'in the know' had started queuing at 05.00. Without going into too much boring detail we were greeted by spectacularly rude and brusque female who informed us that all the good seats had gone and that we should have attended earlier if we wanted better seats. It seemed pointless to argue and we were later told by the Purser's Office that they had no control over the employees of the charter flight company. Whether they have or have not is immaterial. They should have control as this person did the reputation of Princess Cruises no favors whatsoever as far as we were concerned.
Apart from the above incident, which left a nasty taste, and would perhaps make us think twice about taking up the charter flight offer in the future, the whole cruise was brilliant. We can't wait to repeat the experience. In fact we are at this moment counting our pennies to see how soon we can afford to repeat the the whole thing, hopefully for much longer next time.