Number of Cruises: 5
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Star Princess
Sailing Date: January 29th, 2005
Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean
Having read some of the reviews posted about this ship we were quite concerned about our first cruise with Princess. We need not have worried. We flew fron Heathrow London with American Airlines, an airline which I hope never to see again, the stewards were rude, irritable and made us feel as if we were spoiling their day, and were dreading Miami Airport as our last time there was a nightmare. This proved not to be the case this time and we got through relatively quickly. We were transported for an overnight stay to the Intercontinental West hotel, which was adequate although the room was lovely as is usual . Breakfast was fine if pricey and the price of a beer was phenomenal, but this is all standard in our experience.
On arriving at the ship we prepared for the usual long queues for embarkation and were very pleasantly surprised to be onboard within less than half an hour.
The ship is beautiful, immaculately clean and although we only had an outside cabin, it was a nice size, more than adequate for the time we spent in it, and the shower was brilliant compared to other lines we have been on.
Leaving Miami, we explored the ship and everything was wonderful. The lifeboat drill was held in the Princess theatre, a first in our cruise experience, but was very well done.
The food on board was excellent, we chose Personal choice dining, and never had to wait more than five minutes for a table even though we were only 2 people and preferred not to share. Service in the Capri dining room was excellent, every night, and the food was out of this world, the waiters were helpful, polite and kind. A big plus compared to some other ships we have been on. On the occasions we had room service, every day, at least once a day, the service was quick, efficient, never any problems and always exactly as we had asked for, whatever we asked for.
Breakfast in the Horizon restaurant could be a little chaotic, but that was mainly due to the rudeness of other passengers, rather than a problem with the staff or location. A special word for the beef burgers each afternoon. We are not great eaters of "fast food" at home but really enjoyed these as a treat, and the pizza was delicious too!
The shows where fantastically presented, very professional, and the settings were gorgeous, although having said that, Karaoke every night is pushing it a bit, especially as the same people got up each night., but American Karaoke has to be seen to be believed. Also the quizzes left non -Americans such as us completely at sea, shall we say.
The first day was spent on Princess Cays, a lovely experience, with sun loungers ready for us, the day was spent sunbathing, drinking ( must not dehydrate!) and eating. The staff were again kind, helpful and very patient, making the day a really relaxing experience. The days at sea could be spent relaxing or joining in fun games, drinking "mocktails" or alcoholic drinks, using the nine hole putting course, tennis court, swimming pools, jogging track, and of course eating!
Cozumel was a disappointment, a real tourist village, but fine for photo opportunities, tacky souvenirs and very large very loud shirts!
Formal nights were lovely with most people joining in, although I was disappointed to see that people were allowed in to the dining rooms in tee shirts and shorts despite notices saying the contrary. Standards should not be allowed to slip like this. One of the reasons we booked with Princess was because we did not want other diners wearing really casual clothing. If I have taken the time to dress nicely it is surely not beyond other passengers to do the same!
Grand Cayman was excellent, although getting in on the tender was an absolute nightmare, it was obvious the work experience boy had been given free reign on our tender and it took 45 minutes and several hairy experiences before we embarked on our booked excursion. Dont bother with exploring this way. There is nothing to see apart from trees blown down by the hurricane, and Hell was a big disappointment, the visit to the Turtle Farm went on too long and it may be better to explore on your own on this particular island. Jamaica was the opposite, tales of aggressive taxi drivers and people being overcharged for very short trips were rife amongst fellow passengers, so this may be better done on a booked excursion, at least you will get what you have paid for.
The disembarkation procedure was standard and although it took a long time was no worse than any other time we have disembarked in Miami. We were taken back to the Intercontinental West for a quick lunch and then to the Dolphin Mall for shopping if we wanted. The Mall was okay, and was a nice chance to buy some souvenirs, have a bite of real American food and passed the time before we went to the airport very nicely.
A three hour delay at Miami Airport is not a good experience, how can an airport which deals with so many people have so few facilities? It was horrendous!
All in all one of our best cruise experiences, mostly due to the staff, crew and Star Princess ship. We will definitely be booking again. The sooner the better!