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Justin Zaharris

Age: 21 to 35


Number of Cruises: First Cruise

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Dawn Princess

Sailing Date: n/a

Itinerary: South Caribbean Explorer

Overall, the cruise was excellent. Obviously if I'm at a site like this so soon after the cruise I'm most likely going to go on another one.

The ship: I was really impressed with the ship. Even though it's a couple years old, it was hard to tell. Everything seemed to be new or at least extremely well-kept. My only complaint was that they were re-varnishing all the handrails, so often you couldn't look over a railing without ruining a shirt. Some of the hot tubs were out of order on a regular basis too. But other than that, excellent.

The room: We stayed in an inside stateroom on the ninth deck. Three of us were in one room, but it was adequate. Our stewardess, Barbara, was excellent. She introduced herself the first day, and our room was tidy all the time. She even folded some of our clothes and put our bought pictures up in the mirror. Near the end of the week-long cruise they seemed to be having some problems with the sewage system, as the toilet water smelled. But it wasn't too bad.

The food: Normally, we ate breakfast in the Horizon court area. It was a little disappointing. But decent for buffet food. We usually ate lunch in the dining room, and that was great. Usually the service was good, and the food was pretty good also. We had a second-seating dinner in the Florentine dining room, which is identical to the Venetian one a floor above. Our service was pretty good. The waiter, Benji, had to do more then necessary because our assistant waiter was incompetent and rude. I had to ask for refills on water several times. The head waiter, Salvatore, was a jerk. He hardly ever talked to us, and when he did, it was so obvious that he was doing it just for a tip. When we left on the last night without leaving a tip for him, he made a rude, sarcastic comment. There were three of us, and we sat at a six-person table. Our tablemates were a couple from Florida and their son. They were great company.

The ports:

Aruba: It was a little worse than what I had expected. We tried to go snorkeling, but it sold out insanely fast. So we just shopped the whole time, which wasn't bad. The shopping was quite good.

Venezuela: We weren't really willing to pay $90 to go to Venezuela, so we made the mistake of getting off the ship and wandering around in La Guiara, Caracas' port city. What a dump. Although from what I've heard, Caracas is an interesting place.

Grenada : We had to take a tender in because our ship was too large to dock. Luckily, we had gotten a rainforest/waterfall tour. The forest was lush, and the waterfall was also really nice. In addition, we got fresh bananas, and a look at a little spice "factory." Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and friendly.

Dominica: At this port we decided to do whale and dolphin watching. Although we didn't see any whales, we did get to see some dolphins. They also took us snorkeling for a little bit. The area wasn't terrific, but it was interesting nonetheless. I heard that the Emerald pool tour is really good, although the second we got off the dolphin watching boat we were harassed by the local taxi drivers and drug dealers. (We got offered weed three times.)

St. Thomas: We golfed at Mahogany Run here. Although the pictures of the course looked great, they failed to mention that there are only three that look like this. The course itself was dry, and difficult too. We were all a little disappointed by it. For $150 including club and cart rental, we could've done something a lot more enjoyable. The people who sat at our table went diving there, and said it was incredible.

Entertainment: Usually we made ourselves busy with various activities, listening to the steel drum band, etc. Sometimes we sat poolside late at night. We attended the show "Pirates," which was more of a technical display of lighting technology than anything. For one, all the characters wore microphones, which in my mind is a sign of unprofessional actors. The plot was non-existant. The "Jammers" nightclub had a good atmosphere, although it was crowded. The Wheelhouse bar had an excellent jazz band playing nightly, and the decor was nice. We also enjoyed staying in the Horizon late at night, even though they had a cabaret act that was less than spectacular. They also had a "teen disco" which I assume wasn't that great because usually teens think they're "too cool" for that type of thing.

Embarkation/Disembarkation : We arrived in San Juan at about 11 AM. There were Princess people scattered all over the airport, so it was hard to miss them. They took us out to the shuttle, and we were at the dock by 11:30. It seemed a little disorganized, but we there were enough employees to keep things running smoothly without too much of a wait. Even though the brochure said embarkation didn't start until two, were on the boat at noon. Disembarkation was well organized. However, Princess did a horrible job of arranging a flight home. We were off the ship at around 10 AM, but our flight didn't leave until 5:30. They offered two things to do in San Juan, neither of which appealed to us. So we waited in the airport, along with many others in the same position. I can understand them booking a flight that late, but they should at least ask the customer before they do it. We would've liked to be home in Denver a little earlier.

Overall: It was a great experience. We're already planning our next cruise to the Mediterranean.

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