Number of Cruises: Sea Princess
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Sea Princess
Sailing Date: January 29, 2000
Itinerary: NOT FOUND
This was my fifth cruise, (two previously on Princess and two on Celebrity) but first visit to the Caribbean. With me was my 73-year old Mom who has somewhat limited mobility. Our plan was to escape the winter in Philadelphia and spend a week relaxing in the Caribbean warmth. We had no quests for adventure and the Sea Princess itinerary seemed perfect for our plan.
We booked air travel through Princess and were quite satisfied. We had a morning flight out of Philadelphia that brought us to Ft. Lauderdale by 1:00PM. The Princess ground staff was easy to find and we were on our motorcoach for the short (ten minute) transfer to the pier. At the pier, check-in went very smoothly, not more than ten minutes. So, by 1:30, we were in our stateroom. We had a category BA cabin, deluxe outside, meaning that it had a private balcony. We were on deck twelve, Riviera 324, a few steps away from the bridge. (Although a closed door restricted passage down the corridor to the bridge...but we knew it was there.)
The cabin was by far the tiniest, most cramped cabin I’ve seen yet. By comparison, the Crown and Regal Princess cabins now seem like suites! When I say the cabin was tiny, of course, you’ll know that the bathroom was REALLY tiny. My biggest complaint was that there were no drawers in or near the closet. There were two wire bins, but they were only useful for a few pairs of socks or other small, squishable items. The closet did have plenty of hangers, so perhaps that explains the lack of drawers.
I’ve cruised before, so I know that the "two lower berths" are not actually twin size beds, but I swear that the berths in this cabin were even smaller, just barely wider than a cot. And, the nightstand between them was barely 10 inches wide! (I’d never seen such a tiny piece of furniture!) The result, of course, is that you’ll be sleeping extremely close to your cabinmate, just barely 10 inches apart.
A corner unit held the refrigerator and tv. A small vanity with a small wooden stool had six mini-drawers that held odds and ends for us. There was just one small sitting chair. Then, the sliding glass door to the balcony which offered a small round plastic table and two very tiny plastic chairs.
This was my first balcony experience, so I can’t make comparisons, but I can tell you that the chairs were not intended to invite relaxation. As a result, we never spent more than a few minutes at a time on the balcony. The big perk, of course, is the sound and smell of the ocean right in the cabin. In some ways, a window that opens would have done the trick.
We did have a wonderful stewardess, Zaneta from Poland, who provided wonderful, efficient service all week long.
The ship itself is gorgeous. The public spaces are spectacular. In particular, let me echo the other reviews and say that the promenade deck is awesome! The wooden deck chairs were my heavenly escape!
We were assigned to the Sicilian dining room, table 120, second seating. Our waiter was Artur from Poland, assisted by Christina from Romania. They provided wonderful service for our dinners all week. Something a bit unusual: breakfast and lunch in the dining room is always open seating, even on sea days. So, as a result I never had service from Artur for breakfast or lunch. And, also, of course, we were continually meeting new tablemates.
While it’s lovely to meet new people on cruises, towards the end of the week, it gets kind of tiresome to still have to be making the same introductions. I developed a little script and just kept reciting it. Think about it...seven breakfasts, plus seven lunches...that’s fourteen times I’d have to be making my introductory remarks to a new group of tablemates. Needless to say, we limited our trips to the dining room. The Horizon Court buffet on the Lido Deck was also lovely so we started going there for most breakfasts and some lunches.
We were docked in Ft. Lauderdale until 8:15PM Saturday, delayed while we waited for some flights to arrive. The next morning we docked in Nassau, Bahamas. (An unexpected stop: we had expected to spend the day on the private Princess island but technical difficulties intervened. Didn’t matter to me where we went, and they gave us a $50 per person shipboard credit in exchange for the inconvenience.) We took a taxi to the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island and spent a few hours exploring. (Be forewarned: the marine park costs $25 per adult. We decided not to bother and went to the casino instead, where I actually won $75!)
Monday was our day at sea. Tuesday morning we arrived at Ocho Rios. We opted to stay on the ship and admire Jamaica from afar. I spent a few hours parked on a deck chair on the promenade, enjoying an awesome view of the gorgeous island, while not actually experiencing the legendary annoyances of the island.
On Wednesday , we anchored off the shore of Grand Cayman Island. We tendered over and walked around town, shopping a bit in the duty-free stores. Then, we took a Princess Excursion tour (C-2) which took us on a comfortable mini-bus to see 7 Mile Beach (just look at it), then to Hell (rock formation/tourist trap), and then to the Sea Turtle Hatchery. All were short, pleasant stops. Then, the bus dropped us at the pier where we boarded a semi-submarine that took us underwater to see hard coral reefs, fish, and shipwrecks. Overall, a pleasant excursion, well-suited to lazy folks like us.
On Thursday , we docked in Cozumel, Mexico. Some ambitious folks went off to explore Mayan ruins, but we just walked around town and did a little shopping.
Friday was another sea day and then, Saturday, by 5:30AM, we were docked in Ft. Lauderdale again. Disembarkation went very quickly and we were at the airport by 9:00AM, even though our flight wasn’t until noon. (Another forewarning: Ft. Lauderdale airport is undergoing renovation and expansion, but, so far, it’s still quite limited in its services and offerings.)
Some random, overall observations:
Don’t miss Pete Matthews’ performance! He’s hysterical.
This cruise provided the best production number I’ve ever seen on a cruise ("Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance!") while also, with the same singers and dancers mind you, providing me with the worst production number I’ve ever seen ("Glamour.")
While not as gourmet as Celebrity, the food on the Sea Princess never disappointed. There were plenty of wonderful choices.
The cruise director and staff did not impress me. There was one guy (an assistant cruise director) in particular who was awful.
We had awesome weather, glorious every day.
There’s an ice cream sundae bar on the Riviera Deck that serves Hagan Dazs ...for a small fee. It’s less expensive than a land-based Hagan Dazs shop, so I doubt there’s much profit associated with it.
Will I cruise Princess again? ABSOLUTELY. I love their civility.
Will I cruise Sea Princess (and/or her sisters Sun, Dawn, and Ocean)? I’m torn. The public spaces are awesome, but the cabin was so tiny. I guess the attitude is that you don’t spend much time in your cabin, so why waste space there. But, I am supposed to sleep there and my berth shouldn’t be less comfortable than the deck chairs!
Feel free to contact me if I can answer any questions about Sea Princess or this itinerary.