Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Star Princess
Sailing Date: February 20th, 2005
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
This was my first cruise and I was traveling with my girlfriend who has been on five cruises with different cruise lines. Prior to the trip I had read as many reviews as I could on the Star Princess and the ports that we would be stopping at. I found the information and suggestions a great help. Some of the more negative reviews had me wondering if we had picked the right cruise line.
We flew into Ft. Lauderdale from Seattle on Saturday the day prior to the cruise and stayed at the Plantation Hampton Inn which I booked on line through hotels.com. We were both very pleased with the hotel and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a place to stay prior to or after your cruise. The hotel provides a free shuttle to/from the airport and also to/from Port Everglades. They also provide a free continental breakfast.
On the morning of the big trip we booked a spot on the shuttle at 1 o’clock to avoid the noon rush for check in. The mall and several restaurants are easy walking distance from the hotel and they have a spare room set up to store luggage until you depart. Upon arrival at Port Everglades we were dropped off in front of the Star Princess and immediately had our bags checked in. The entire check in process took about 15-20 minutes from drop off to boarding the ship. We had brought a few bottle of wine and a bottle of rum which were in our checked bags. They will charge a $ 10.00 cork fee should you choose to have your own bottle in the dining room. If you’re going to have the wine in your own room don’t forget a cork screw! Our cabin steward was kind enough to get one for us to use as needed so you will likely survive if you forget yours.
We also purchased just one of the all you can drink pop stickers and shared it for the week.
Our balcony cabin was on Lido Deck 14. Depending on what your expectations and needs are on a cruise this may or may not be the right deck for you. We are both active people and loved this location. The Neptune’s Reef and pool are on this deck and also Horizon court. Neptune’s is the main pool on the ship and we found out on day one that you’d better get your spot early if you’d like to be near the pool. I would be out by 7:30 a.m. with my coffee, towels and packs to get our spots. This is also the spot that offers burgers and pizza in the afternoon hours. Good Burgers! Horizon court is the 24 hr buffet and having to walk through it to our room each time I did get to know the dessert line very well. A quick trip up the stairs to deck 15 puts you right at the healthclub/spa entrance and we used the club five days (To unload the calories from the late night dessert line!)
The room itself looked nearly brand new and the cabin steward did a great job all week long. I loved the balcony and couldn’t imagine going on a cruise without one. We showered several times per day and yes-the shower is small but how much room do you need in the shower anyway? Fresh towels were provided twice per day, extra beach towels were provided, the bed turned down with chocolate on the pillow nightly. I did have flowers delivered to the room and wanted them when we got to the room but they did not arrive until Monday. Make sure you order at least a week ahead if you want them in the room on arrival. I ordered then last minute and wasn’t surprised that I had to wait a day. They were beautiful however when they did arrive and I would do it again for that special romantic touch.
Rather than a day by day account I will give my thoughts on each section of the Star and the Ports.
The Casino: If you’ve got the time and the extra cash it was a good place to relax and meet a few more people. I like playing the 3 card poker and did manage to take more home than I left so I liked it. A little too much smoke for me to spend much time there but not bad for late night fun.
Skywalkers: Wow…could have been so much more fun. It seems like most the people on the cruise are 35 and up but the DJ seemed to want to cater to the 20 year olds. We’d dance a few then have to sit out about five songs. Try it out - dump the DJ.
Explorers: We spent time here every night. The band was fair and we enjoyed most of the karaoke. At the end of the week there was a competition with the six best from the week. It was pretty entertaining and moved to the Vista lounge for the final. They also have the marriage game which was a complete crack up (always expect the unexpected) and jeopardy that was just OK.
Princess Theatre: Sarge was one of the comedians and he was great. I would pay to see his act again. The other comedian was not very good. They also had a comic/juggler that was good. We did not have the time to see any of the musical/dance acts so I’m not any help there.
Food: We had the personal choice dining and I would recommend it unless you like the same wait staff and people to dine with nightly. We ate at the dining room on deck six the first night and deck five the rest. For some reason the there was always a line on six and hardly ever on five. We met some great people and seemed to run into the same people time and time again. We never made it to breakfast in the dining room-opting for room service or the horizon buffet. I’m not the world’s pickiest eater and I would give the food 8 out of 10. I felt there was a pretty good variety each night and did love the desserts (Having 2-3 each night). Tiramisu was my favorite or the week.
Our first port was San Juan which we arrived several hours late for. Each of us was given a $50 credit for the late arrival. Since this was an evening stop we had planned nothing other than having a few drinks and seeing some of the town. We did not go to Senior Frogs but heard it was a happening spot that night. We enjoyed some of the smaller open air bars and enjoyed talking with some of the locals. This was my least favorite of our 4 stops and if I cruise the eastern Caribbean again I would avoid it.
Our next port was St. Thomas which I loved. After reading reviews we decided not to book a tour and take a cab to Coki beach and avoid the crowds at Megan’s Bay. The cab was $6.00 per person each way. What a beautiful beach it was with the sand and water being just how I pictured it. The snorkeling was awesome here too. Not too crowded in the water and very clear. We had packed some dog biscuits and the fish went crazy for them. When we were ready to leave there are a bunch of cab drivers trying to get you to take their cab. We found it was better to stand by the road and wait for one already moving that had room rather than be hustled to a cab and wait for the driver to round up more passengers. This was my favorite beach on the trip.
If I was to make it Tortola again I would take the Ferry to Virgin Gorda. Everyone we knew that made the trip said it was fantastic. We took a cab over to Brewers Bay and had another fun day of snorkeling. The sand was not as nice as St. Thomas but the reef was excellent for fish and sea turtles. If there was any good shopping on the Island we did not find it but really were not looking very hard either.
Our last stop was Princess Cays. The beach was very nice and we decided to walk way down the beach to explore a little and get away from most of the people. The BBQ lunch was good and all in all a good relaxing day. Make sure you try out one of the hammocks!
There were a few fish to see snorkeling but this is defiantly geared towards the
I would love to visit the Caribbean again and would travel on the Star Princess if I could. My expectations going in where not great because of some of the reviews but I thought the staff was good and most of them went the extra mile to make sure we had a wonderful cruise experience.