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Lorne Torres

Age: 31

Occupation:IT Specialist

Number of Cruises: 8

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Star Princess

Sailing Date: November 20th, 2005

Itinerary: Western Caribbean


A little bit of history

Some would like to know from what perspective this review is based on. I'm a 31-year-old male from Ohio and this makes my 8th cruise. Of my previous cruises, six were Carnival ships and one was Royal Caribbean. I like the fun atmosphere, good food, and good service that seem to be the standard on Carnival ships. I know these aren't considered "luxury" cruises, and I believe my expectations are reasonable.

As I have mentioned in previous reviews, there are always an abundance of things to do on a cruise. This review will of course highlight only what we chose to do.

If you enjoy this review, you can check out the other two I wrote for this site.

Carnival Elation:

http://www.cruisereviews.com/CarnivalCruiseLines/Elation24.htm

Carnival Glory:

http://www.cruisereviews.com/CarnivalCruiseLines/CarnivalGlory13.htm

If you want to contact me, I can be reached at: Lorne_torres at NO SPAM hotmail.com (format like a regular e-mail address.)

Day 1 (Sail away)

Getting to the ship

We took a straight flight from Cleveland to Fort Lauderdale via Continental. The flight went well and arrived in about 2 hours 20 minutes. After getting our bags from the terminal, we took a taxi over to the ship. This proved to be the best way to go because the port is a mere10 minutes from the airport and it doesn’t make sense to load yourself into a crowded bus, wait for it to fill up, and wait some more while they load a million pieces of luggage into the cargo space. I’m not big on waiting and by opting to go with cab service (an abundance of taxis were ready and waiting), you can get to the ship much more quickly and efficiently.

Check-in

Check-in was the smoothest I've ever experienced on any cruise line. I don't know if that had anything to do with filling out the boarding information online, or if it had to do with the time we arrived (around 1:00pm), or whether it was just normal Princess embarkation. Whatever the case, it was FAST! Not a single line to wait in other than the 3-minute security line.

The ship

As I first walked into the ship's atrium, I was a bit under whelmed by the overall look of things. But, after having a few days to look around, the ship's decor and "feel" grew on me. I was more used to a “Vegas” look, and this ship had a more refined look. All of the ship's “places to be” were put in the right spots. Elevator speed was about on par with other cruises. Upon thinking about how other ships are laid out, I felt this one had a very well thought-out design.

Our Room

We were convinced we would get a “ghetto room” (i.e. joke terminology for a super small room with no window) since we opted for an inside cabin. For this sailing, which was during the week of November 20th-27th 2005, we paid $750.00 per person. It was actually a pretty big room. I'm used to Carnival rooms which are considered big. However, this one seemed bigger. I'm guessing it was about 160 square feet. We had a bed that was about queen-size (two single beds pushed together) and I had no problems sleeping on it. We also had a pretty decent sized window. Next time, I think I'm going to go for a balcony suite though.

The bathroom was tiny, as cruise bathrooms generally are. But, that was okay. I don't spend that much time in it. I would change the shower size though since it was quite small. It's a good thing I'm not a “big guy” because I don't know how large people would fit in the thing. I'm guessing they take their baths in the pool.

Carnival seems to have their "ghetto" rooms at the bottom of the ship (i.e. 3, 4 etc) and then everything else above (at least that has been the case with the Carnival ships I've been on). This ship has the "ghetto" rooms starting on deck 8 and then I would assume they get better as you go up. Most of the "places to be" (lounges, show areas, dining rooms, bars, shopping areas, etc) can be found on decks 5, 6, and 7 (except for the dance club and a few other things).

We are big bottled water drinkers. So, when we got there we noticed that they had Dannon spring water (1.5L) @ $2.95 per bottle. I paged the room steward and ordered 10 bottles right off the bat (we go through that in a couple of days). He brought it to us within 5 minutes. Nice.

The only thing we didn't have in our cabin was a supply of washcloths (which my wife absolutely must have in order to wash her face before she can go to bed).We reminded the cabin steward twice (once in the afternoon and once in the evening) that we were in need of washcloths. It took awhile to receive them. But, he apologized and said they were really busy. No problem. We aren't hard to please. But, we do enjoy good service. :)

One thing we noticed nightly was the sound of the Princess Theater. Since we stayed in E211 (and were right above the theater), there were definitely bass sounds that we heard reverberating from below. Not a big deal when we were awake. But, we didn't appreciate the noise when we were trying to get some sleep.

They had a fruit bowl card that you could fill out and hang on the door. So, we chose the items that we wanted and they came the next day around 4:00pm. The bananas and apples were fine. However, the oranges and pears looked horrible.

I liked where the TV was placed, although it was difficult for the remote control to reach it at the normal angles. I was also hoping for the “on TV” excursion ordering and invoice viewing. On Carnival, you can order your excursions (instead of waiting in a line to order them), or view your cabin invoice (up to the minute charges) on the TV to check discrepancies instead of going to the purser to get a paper invoice. I was really disappointed that this ship didn't offer that service as it makes things much more convenient for guests. The channel selection wasn't the best. But, it had a movie channel, a cartoon channel, CNN, ship frontal camera, ship stats, etc. The majority of the time, the channel reception was pretty choppy when trying to watch movies or programs.

Oh, and no towel animals the entire cruise. Not sure if this is standard for Princess or whether our cabin steward chose not to make them.

Please iron my clothes

Since it isn't convenient to iron certain pieces of clothing every night for dinner, I had our room steward pick up 4 shirts and 1 pair of dress pants. More on that later.

Life boat drill / Muster station drill (blah blah whatever)

Yes, safety rocks... but not when the chances of you sinking at sea these days has been reduced to hardly anything. This muster drill was much more elaborate compared to Carnival. We had to meet in the main theater and listen to at least 20-30 minutes of drivel before we could leave. I heard a guy next to me say that we should have some sort of “life boat drill certification” so that we didn't have to attend anymore muster drills in the future after obtaining the certification. I agree 100%. When was the last time a cruise ship sank?

Welcome aboard show (I think) :)

If you sit at the front of the theater (at least this night) forget about bar service. I had to go to the bar in the back to get a drink.

Different from Carnival is the fact that the welcome aboard show has the senior staff (shopping guy, Internet guy, art person etc...) peddling their wares as they introduce themselves.

After that, it was time for the comedian Scott Wyler. He was a pretty funny guy. I was laughing for most of the show. His mannerisms and gestures made for a pretty entertaining show. I'm real big on sitting in the front row (or as close as possible), since you get to see a lot more by watching someone that close. I think you miss a quite a bit when you sit far away. I was looking forward to seeing this guy again.

Nighttime wandering

I'm big on going up to the top deck to check out the windiest part of the ship at night. Anyway, the best part of the ship (the front) was blocked off with a "Strong winds/ No entry" sign. Well, I went over the rope anyway. It's always the best part of the ship in my opinion. No one was there,  it had an excellent view of the water, the wind was gushing, and I felt peaceful. I was all set with my bucket of beer (5 Dos Equis XXX in a bucket @ $16.95 (includes tip)) and my 20 gigger iPod.

Day 2 (Day at Sea)

Afternoon wandering.

We wandered around for awhile and noticed there was a movie playing in the main theater. Batman Begins. We opted not to spend the time watching it since we had already seen it when it first came out. It was nice to know they have movies playing from time to time. They ended up showing about 3-4 movies during the week. We didn’t watch any of them. But, when we had poked our heads in a couple of times, the theatre was never crowded.

Press my clothes please....

Okay, so we are in our room at 3pm to take a little nap. I woke up around 4pm and still no clothes. I waited until 4:26 (mind you, we are going to eat dinner around 5:30) and then I paged the room steward. No answer. I called the pursers desk and she said she would talk to Housekeeping to find out the status. She then called back a few minutes later and let me know that my room steward would be bringing my clothes by. I can't get ready for formal night until I get my dress shirt and pants.  :(

A knock at the door at 5:05pm with my clothes. Good thing I get ready fast. :)

If the rooms only had irons and ironing boards. They have these on each floor. But, since it's open to the public, there are often lines. Who wants to waste valuable cruise time waiting in line to iron?

Fernando the Hypnotist (Vista Lounge)

He had an 8:45pm show and a 10:45pm show. I went to both of them because it's hilarious to watch people get zonked out and make idiots of themselves. :) Some of the things he had them do was dance like a ballerina, rock out like AC/DC, believe they are naked, believe the audience is naked, make them feel like they are watching a funny movie, a sad movie, then an adult film. There was a Mormon guy and a rapper guy that were hypnotized and they were both hysterical. The one rapped to Young MC's "Bust a Move" in Chinese (the kid's interpretation of Chinese, that is). The Mormon guy was very scared when told he was watching an “adult film”.

There was a Broadway style show called “Dance” in the main theater tonight.  But, we skipped it because we've seen those types of shows about a million times and they are all about the same with minor differences. I have no clue how it was.

Day 3 (Day at sea due to weather)

First stop Cozumel

Nope... no stop today. The weather was bad (so said the captain) even though the sun was out. I guess it had something to do with the winds and the safety of tendering people ashore. That stinks because we were going to do the two person speedboat excursion. Oh well. I saved $219.00. Back to the room to get some more sleep since we set our alarms for 7:30am to make the excursion on time. It would have been nice to know this before we left our rooms.

Finding a seat on deck

Hahahah... nope. We looked for two seats for about 2 hours. Towels, books, sandals, plates, you name it. They were all on the chairs. This even in spite of the fact that the Princess Patter ( the info sheet delivered to your cabin each day) stated that there will be no saving deck chairs and that any articles left for more than 30 minutes will be picked up and taken to a designated area. That was a total joke. I was very close to picking up someone’s stuff and moving it myself. There was always one chair here and one there. But, these were only in the worst parts of the ship (i.e. where no sun was hitting at the time). The kicker was watching people put their towels on their chairs and go all the way to the buffet (on the other side of the ship) and bring their food back and sit on the deck chair. This type of seat holding should be banned on all cruise ships and according to the Princess Patter, it is banned on Princess ships. But, no action was ever taken. If you can't stay at your chair (or have at least one person in your party watch over the chair) then you shouldn't be able to hold a seat. We finally found two in the sun around 2pm in a secluded corner. That would have been great except for the fact that we smelled strong boat fumes. I think we'll have to get the chairs early next time. I don't know if the overcrowding on the top deck was because everyone had their bathing suits on to get ready for their excursions in Cozumel and then due to cancellation everyone decided to go up top, or just that there weren't too many day activities going on inside because most people get off the ship while in port, or just a lot of sunbathers for this trip.

Comedian / Magician (James “The Kid” Michael)

This guy was nuts. I think he was on speed or something prior to doing the show based on how charged and energetic he was and how quickly he delivered one liner after one liner. Very different kind of act. He only did about 4 or 5 magic tricks. But, they were pretty good ones. Definitely much better than some of the substandard ones I've seen in the past. He even had a trick with a live skunk that gets a few people to jump. Good stuff.

Day 4 (Grand Cayman)

Stingray City Snorkel

We took the tender to the pier (on deck 4) and waited about 10 minutes to board. The tender ride is about 10-15 minutes. Once we got to the pier (we got there about an hour before our excursion time) there was a very small beach area that we enjoyed. Although it was a bit rocky, we had a good time relaxing there and even found several hermit crabs. The water seemed cold at first. But, it soon became very warm. I was ready for the stingray snorkel. After we were done at the beach, we met at the time specified (1:15pm) and headed off to the bus which took us to the boat. The boat was a nice size and we didn't feel crowded. We were able to see a lot of stingrays. I pulled from the bucket of food a few times to feed them. Very awesome and friendly creatures. Sometimes it could be a little overwhelming especially when there are two or three swimming by you at the same time. But, definitely worth it. You were given about 45 minutes in the water with them. The time passes way too quickly. So, enjoy every minute of it! On our way back they were offering Stingray City beer for $4.00 a bottle. Very good beer, tasted like a micro brew. After getting back, we had to wait in a HUGE line for the tender. (I do mean HUGE!!) Although the line moved at a decent pace, we still had to wait quite awhile. They need to build an area for the cruise ships to dock in Grand Cayman. This port has been around for awhile. So, I don't know why they haven't done this yet. All in all a great tour.

Comedian Show (Scott Wyler 2nd night)

He went for at least an hour. It was great how he was commenting on the tender line from Grand Cayman and making fun of how long it took.

Day 5 (Montego Bay Jamaica)

Countryside tour with lunch

This tour was pretty enjoyable. They take you on a river raft ride down the Great River. Beautiful scenery and very quiet. Our raft captain was Sherman. He said he's been rafting for 16 years. It's amazing how they have to make their own rafts every 10 months. Each time a river tour has ended, they have to bring the raft back upstream manually (which takes 2 hours). They get paid 7 American dollars per trip (45 minutes down and 2 hours up). Good thing 1 American dollar equals 60 Jamaican. We gave the guy an extra $10.00 at the end. Along the way, he showed us the “touch me not” plants. When you touch them, they close up and open back up in 5-10 minutes. They were amazing! I've never seen anything like it. He also showed us the (I think he said) “Fifi flower”. Once you take it apart, you can use the inside part of it to create a very loud whistle by putting it between your lips. Then he showed us a natural waterfall which the locals drink from. It started to rain mid-tour which added to the beauty (since it was light rain). But, then it started getting a little cold. Good thing it stopped about 5 minutes later.

After the raft ride, it was off to watch a guy climb a coconut tree and taste the fresh coconut milk and meat. I love fresh coconut. It's great for your blood pressure, heart, liver, and kidney cleansing. The locals say it's great for hangovers (which I’m sure is due to the natural electrolytes in the water). They also say “One a day keeps the doctor away” as we would normally say for apples.

Time for some more tasting around the corner where we sat and listened to them talk about Blue Mountain coffee, bananas (and banana rum), and coconut. We were able to taste banana liqueur, and FRESH Pina Colada. And when I say fresh, I mean it was the best I’ve ever had. Only natural ingredients were used. No syrup and other garbage like that. They said if any of your friends want the recipe, they need to go to Jamaica.

After that, we met the “banana man”. He drove us on a tractor around the banana plantation. He described every part of the banana plant, from the base to the flower and then he sung us a song “daylight come and me wanna go home”. No part of the banana or tree goes unused. Just how it should be.

Time for our lunch, which was a small but great-tasting authentic Jamaican buffet. Barbecued chicken, rice and beans, coleslaw, rolls, and red punch (I couldn't tell if it had alcohol in it or not because I had already consumed a few drinks).

After lunch, it was off to shop downtown. We noted an interesting thing about this part of the tour. After exiting the bus, one of the guides said that we should “shop only in this direction” pointing to the Indian/Pakistani shops and not the local Jamaican shops (obviously the tour guides are getting paid on the side from the owners of the stores they urged us to shop in). We also came to find that the shops the guide recommended were charging more for their merchandise. We had a few locals come up to us and tell us what was going on. They said things are cheaper buying from locals and not the shops our tour guide was recommending. After getting back to the terminal building and telling some of the local bartenders, they seemed ticked off and with good reason. Sadly, this was another case of good old human greed at its finest. We found this out after buying from the Indian stores. On the other hand, I was approached by 3 locals asking me if I wanted some smoke and one even went into detail telling me he had black hash. We aren't in Kansas any more Toto.

Like most of these tours, everyone wants your money. From the Banana guy, to the guy making the pina coladas, the tour guide, and even the guy who climbs the coconut tree. So be prepared to bust out the tips.

Overall a very nice tour. I would recommend trying it once and I'd go back for the rafting more than once.

Bar in the Jamaican Terminal building

This bar has a nice little secret. The beer is cheaper than on the ship, and they have these meat pies called “Juici Beef patties” for $1.50. Man, those things are addictive. We had two of them and I could have easily had more.

Spotlight Cabaret (Live Wire – Celtic Music)

Very talented guitar/violin couple. In addition to playing their instruments, they also sing and do a little comedy. Both were awesome to watch. They did a few goodies like "Dueling Banjos", "The Devil Went Down to Georgia", and a few other popular songs as well as a couple of their own. I'm diggin it.

Give My Regards (Broadway style show #2)

The 4 main singers had excellent voices. I'm not really into these types of shows as they all usually seem about the same. However, they all did a good job, had great audience contact, and didn't have any foul-ups. I was talking to a couple next to me and they were there to see the show for the second time and another couple had seen it 3 times.

Deck party

First of all, the "party" was hard to find as just about every part of the ship up top seemed quiet and deserted. Finally, we found it at a very small part of the ship all they way in the back. That's great and all if you want to spotlight a band (which they did) But, it was insanely crowded to the point where you could hardly move. I like when other ships have this by the main pool area of the ship. You feel less like sardines that way. Even though the music was good, we left after about 5 minutes and had some late night buffet. At this point in the cruise, food does not have the same appeal as it did in the beginning since you are completely loaded with it at all times. Off to the room with our full bellies. :)

Day 6 (Day at Sea)

My experience at Scoops Ice Cream Parlor

We decided to get some ice cream. There was a little line (about 5 or so people ahead of us) and it moved pretty quickly. They do charge for their ice cream ($1.50 for soft serve and $3.75 for everything else). I had a Strawberry Landslide and my wife had chocolate soft serve in a cone. I tasted hers and it was just average soft serve. But, the Strawberry Landslide was delicious! I would definitely recommend them for their hard serve ice cream sundaes!

How about a deck chair?

Today it was a bit easier to get a deck chair than it was on the “missing Cozumel” day. I'm guessing because most of the people were sunburned and/or they got it out of their system the first day they hogged all the chairs.

Cinematastic

This was another Broadway-style show. There were about 3 acts that I liked (and I'm not really into these types of shows as I mentioned before). They did a Titanic/Ghost combo, a Cirque du Soleil imitation, and a few other things

Cabaret Spotlight (Comedian David Deeble)

This guy has a very unique way of combining comedy and juggling. Even though I thought he was funny, he didn't as many laughs as the other comedians. He reminded me of a skinnier Kevin Ferlin (http://www.whyimright.com). Hi Kevin! His sense of humor was spot on. But, most people didn’t get it. His act was a blend of self-deprecating comments, dry humor, and semi-risky stunts. Good job, David. :)

Late Night show (Fernandez the Hypnotist and his Jerry Springer show)

Wow... this show was one of the funniest I've seen in a long time. The final 7 volunteers that were left (after the other 13 were weeded out) had some outrageous commentary. Especially the part where he tells the girls they now have “male members” and then tells the guys that they no longer have one. The reactions were just hysterical. Then, there was a part in the Jerry Springer segment where he asked them to “tell a secret” to their pretend family. Ahh never mind, it would take too long to explain that one. Anyway, the stuff they were coming up with was priceless and completely convincing.

Day 7 (Princess Cays)

Wow! I wish we could have stayed here for a couple of days! This place had a resort quality to it. There were so many things to do........everything from snorkeling, banana-boating, to aqua-biking, sailing etc.. It was a gorgeous day and I overheard many people say they wanted to stay another night. When it was time to return to the ship, the tender line was pretty long again. It was a little faster than the tender line in Grand Cayman though. I picked up one of the souvenir monkey coconut heads (it comes with a drink in it) that doubles as a piggy bank ($3.00 extra when you buy a frozen drink).

Back on the ship for some relaxation

I wanted to lie in the sun for as long as possible on this final day, before heading back to our incessantly gray and gloomy state. I was able to find a deck chair in the sun and near the bar (yes...it was a miracle). I hopped in the pool and it seemed to be chlorinated water instead of the saltwater that you normally get in Carnival pools. Going back and forth between the cold pool water and the hot deck chair while having a Bass Ale was nothing less than bliss. At this point, I was finally feeling the relaxation of the cruise. Of course....now that I had to leave the next day.

Photo gallery

They gallery was nicely laid out. But, it was jam-packed with people all the time. They really do need a bigger area. This was always the most crowded area of the ship and you had to go through there to get to one of the main theatres. It was quite aggravating trying to navigate through the sea of people agonizing over which photos to choose. Oh well. Every ship we have ever been on seems to have this same issue.

Final show (Live Wire and James “The Kid” Michael)

Pretty decent show. The first part was more of the guitar/violin couple and then the second part was more magic from “The Kid”. I thought it was entertaining. However, it seemed to be a bit short.

Time for bed now as we could both barely keep our eyes open. We put our tags on our suitcases and left them outside our door. They were picked up within the hour.

Day 8 (Disembarkation)

Upon waking up this morning, we found that the final invoice was placed in our cabin mailbox. A not-so-horrible $947.00 (roughly).

Disembarkation was fairly smooth even though it took awhile for our cabin to be called. We were off the ship around 10:00am. Customs was pretty quick, especially if you have a passport instead of birth cert/ID. The one thing we had a problem with was the fact that when we finally found our luggage, two of the suitcases were badly damaged. The wheels were torn off one and the other had massive dents in it. I swear, luggage must have a big “BEAT ME TO DEATH” sign on it. Or at least that's what the staff must think. We then took a Taxi back to the airport (cost was $11.70 and I gave the lady a $20.00). The drive back was faster than it was on the way to the ship.

Food in general

We didn't do any dining room breakfasts or lunches. So, I can't tell you how they were.

Buffet Breakfasts

We went to the buffet most mornings. I tried a variety of the offerings. Everything was pretty good except for the scrambled eggs. They have no taste. I'm not even sure they are real eggs. Possibly an egg product. They did have regular fried eggs which were good. I stuck with those for the rest of the trip. Other types of items included sausage, turkey sausage, baked tomatoes, omelets, potatoes, rice and beans, cold cereal, oatmeal, fruit, milk, pancakes, french toast, muffins, danishes and sometimes they fish such as smoked salmon.

Buffet lunches

Buffets are located on the Lido deck (both sides of deck 14). I'm not quite sure which buffet we ate at. But, they had their buffet laid out quite a bit differently (and in a much less user-friendly manner) than we have previously seen on Carnival ships. There were theater-style rope railings almost indicating a direction in which to go. However, there were several different sections to the buffet and there were no “enter here” or “exit here” signs. Needless to say, it was sort of chaotic. People were cutting in line and I'm not quite sure they knew what  to do and where to go (and neither did we). So, we just darted in and out of the sections that had the items we wanted and tried to dodge other people in the mean time. This seemed to be the only way to do it. I'm guessing it's a joke played on the passengers for fun. :)

The food at lunch was slightly above average for a buffet meal. There was always a decent variety and the offerings seemed to change slightly from day to day. The buffet included items such as sushi, vegetarian burritos, salad, cheese, sandwiches (different every day), rice and beans, and a many other odds and ends which were all pretty good. Finding a table close to the buffet was a challenge, especially if you wanted a window seat

Anytime dining

I was a little leery about trying this new form of dining. Although my wife was also a little hesitant to try it, she wanted me to make the decision. So, I decided it would be good to give the "anytime dining" a try. Our first night we went to the Capri dining room because it opens at 5:30pm (the Portofino opens at 6:00pm). We got there at 5:30, and by 5:33 they opened the doors and we were the first ones in the dining room. We made sure to get there early because I had heard horror stories of people waiting around forever to eat and I didn't want to miss the show. Anyway, we had a very nice dinner the first night (I had fillet of Zander). Some of the differences we noticed about Princess dinners (as opposed to Carnival) were that the bread was on the table instead of the bus boys bringing it to you, the waiter served you the alcoholic beverages (which was nice) instead of having a barmaid come by during dinner, and they had an "always available" set of appetizers, entrees, and desserts that you could pick from no matter what night it was. Oh, and they used the little crumb scrapers to clean your table before dessert. Nice little touch. :)

Another thing I noticed was that both of the waiters that came to our table (they were both waiters, no busboy/assistant waiter) offered to sell a bottle of wine and said that if we didn't drink it all, they would save it for the next night and it would be cheaper than getting individual glasses. The actual cost was about the same. If you order a bottle of wine and do not finish it at the table you can have them put a tag on it and they will hold onto it until the next dinner. The next night you just tell them your cabin number and they bring your bottle of wine back to your table. The other option is just to take the bottle with you.

Since there are already many other reviews out there that discuss what types of food you can order on the ship, I'll just mention a few that I had.........swordfish, eggplant parmesan, salad, shrimp cocktail, cheese plates, chilled soups, etc...etc.. etc..

The review below is for you if you want to know about all the food in detail:

http://www.cruisereviews.com/PrincessCruises/StarPrincess59.htm

First formal night dinner.

We sat at a different table in the Capri dining room this night (#32) and had a much nicer dining experience. I suggest getting there early by 5:20 or 5:25pm to avoid waiting. I hate to wait because I don't want to have to rush or miss any of the shows. When you go at this time, there are no more than 5 or 6 couples waiting for dinner. You are seated within minutes. Most of the people were dressed in suits, some were dressed in tuxes. There were a few people (not many) walking around the ship in casual clothes. On Carnival ships, you tend to see more people in casual attire on the formal nights.

Second Formal night dinner (Sabatini's)

We chose to spend the extra $20.00 per person to dine at Sabatini's Trattoria on the final formal night. Our reservation was for 6:00pm. Please go to this place with a completely (and I do stress completely) empty stomach. We were “fairly” hungry when we went and were stuffed halfway through the meal. The potato pillows and the “flan-like” dessert are scrumptious. They keep bringing you food, and more food, and then more food. It was all very nice. But, now I know why Italians can get rather large. :)

Prego's Pizza

The pizza was very good (not as good as Carnival's). But, it was much better than Royal Caribbean’s. The taste was good. However, the slices were so paper-thin that they would just fall apart. The had a few different pizzas to chose from and there were also the usual side offerings such as pepper seeds, parmesan cheese, and what looked like oregano to sprinkle on your pizza.

Experience with Room Service.

Generally room service took about 20-30 minutes no matter what you ordered. I always tipped them at least 3-5 bucks. The guys who came were very professional. Sometimes it could take awhile for them to answer the phone (one time I sat on hold for 5 minutes). I always received what I ordered except for one time when they didn’t bring the flan.

Drink Quality

We generally ordered drinks like vodka and soda, Becks beer, Dewar’s and soda, and Crown Royal and soda. We had a few other odds and ends like Strawberry Daiquiri, Passion fruit something or another, and a couple others. The normal drinks were fine. But, the sweet ones were way too sweet and syrupy. Most people seemed fine with it though. So, if you have the typical American taste (i.e. liking things that are very sweet or very salty), you'll do just fine with them. :)

Activities aboard

The daily activities that Princess has are things like quizzes, shuffleboard, ceramics classes, dance classes, trivia, line dancing, scavenger hunts, bingo, ping pong, putt putt course, pool games, art auctions, movies, afternoon tea, water volleyball, live music at the piano bar, the wheelhouse bar, the vista lounge, nightly shows, spa treatments, ice carving demonstrations, snorkel lessons, outburst game, card playing get-togethers, getting tan on the sundeck, pictionary, shopping, Casino games, and eat, eat, eat, etc... Definitely no lack of things to do.

People to note:

There were 3 individuals who I thought made this cruise nice. Two in the dining room and one in the lobby bar. Great dining room staff: Anna (from Poland) and Wojtek (also from Poland), the barmaid (I can't remember her name now) is from Portugal. She was very, very nice. The cruise director was decent. But, he wasn’t on the stage for very long at any one time.

Princess Theater and Vista Lounge

Both could accommodate large groups of people. Obviously, the theater can hold more and most of the time they did put the right show in the appropriate place. There were a couple of times however, where the main shows would be in the Vista Lounge and it would be packed with people standing.

The Princess Theater had mini tables built into each chair (it was made so that it just folded out of one of the chair arms). This was nice because if you wanted a drink, you could place it there. Otherwise, you had no extra table or stand getting in your way. Also, I noticed that there weren’t any support columns (typical on Carnival) in the Princess Theatre that would get in the way of viewing the show. Although, there were some in the Vista Lounge that could obstruct one's view of the show.

Differences from Carnival

They (meaning Princess)…

Didn’t shove Bingo down your throat.

Made their pools and Jacuzzis available for use 24 hours a day.

Have much better water pressure in the shower.

Didn’t bother you with “pages” in your cabin. If you wanted to hear the ships announcements, you could turn to a certain channel on your TV.

Didn’t have as many “day games” in the theater or lounges. They just had "talks" that were for encouraging passengers to buy more cruises, services, or items.

Have a frequent cruiser benefits program (Gold, Platinum, etc..)

Have less of a party atmosphere and cater to a more “mature” environment

Have a better in-room safe. This is nice because you just type a 4-digit code instead of having to swipe a card.

-Have better quality shows. The dancers, the singers, and the lighting and sound effects seem more “Vegas-like” than Carnival.

Have less food selection on their buffet than Carnival. Carnival shines compared to Princess in this area.

Have a decent nightclub. However, the music wasn’t that great. They tried to mix it up with some really old stuff that shouldn’t be played at clubs anymore.

Conclusion

We had a good time on this ship. But, it took a little while to get used to. When you have taken several cruises with one line, it’s hard to change unless the change is for the better. Would I go on Princess again? Probably not. The next time I take a cruise, I will choose either a smaller, more exclusive ship from a different line or another Carnival cruise. I guess I’m a just Carnie at heart.

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