Susan & Kenneth Kimmel
Number of Cruises: 20+
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Star Princess
Sailing Date: December 18th, 2005
Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean
After a congested time at FLL baggage claim, we finally retrieved our luggage, contacted the Princess Representative and boarded our transfer to Port Everglades Pier. It is a very short trip and could easily be done in a taxi. Even though it was Sunday morning, the traffic was very heavy.
When we arrived at the pier, there was an enormously long line outside. The Platinum passengers had their own entrance for quick check in. The line outside went very quickly, through security and on to our deck’s check-in line. We were third in line and were checked in quickly. Staterooms were ready, and then off to buffet lunch.
We were on agent rates and had a choice of 4 obstructed outside cabins, aft on Emerald Deck. In my opinion, they are partially obstructed because there is only rigging outside the window. Except for occasional staff, we can see out just fine. The four cabins on Port Side are E714, E712, E710 & E708. I chose E712 but actually E710 would have been better because of less obstruction. I do miss the outside air of a balcony cabin, though.
The lunch buffet was very limited today. We preferred to take out tray out to the covered swimming pool area.
Dining: When we booked the cruise we requested Traditional Dining, First Seating. That was 2 months ago and we went on the waitlist. By sailing time we had not cleared the waitlist so we had to go to the Matre d and “beg” for an assigned table. There is only one traditional dining room so he assigned us a table at 5:45 pm in the Capri Dining Room with others who had the same request. Only one other couple showed up that night at our table for six. The Matre d told us that we could invite anyone we met to join us but he did not assign anyone else to our table. The second evening, my husband went to the Matre d and snagged the next couple in line. Now, I think we have 2 other delightful couples for dinner.
My opinion is that the Anytime Dining is not working for Princess when there are so many people who want Traditional Dining. We understood that the waitlist for second dining was up to 284 requests at the time of sailing. That is a lot of couples or families who wanted Traditional Dining.
Cabins: The ship is completely full so I can comment only on our cabin. The size is very adequate but we only have a barrel chair instead of a couch. The refrigerator is very nice to have and the counter on top is a great “catch all.” We have much more storage space than we need. It is nice to have it scattered about the cabin. I, especially like the long closet rod with more storage room than I have at home. The safe is in the tall closet cupboard and had good light. The air circulation in the bathroom must be good because the shower curtain is not sticking to me. I love the shelf under the sink. It is great for those things that you don’t use very often but want in the bathroom. Because we didn’t have a suite with the upgraded mattresses, we requested a foam bed pad immediately and soft pillows. What a difference in the quality of our rest. As part of the ship’s holiday decorations, each cabin’s message box had a holiday decoration. Our cabin steward is very nice and gets the cabin cleaned in the appropriate time, but is not observant of unrequested needs. For instance, we ran out of hand lotion but had lots of packages of shampoo and conditioner. I really find those paper packages of shampoo, conditioner, and lotion, tacky. But, they are better than the dispensers on some ships.
Dining Rooms: There are three main dining rooms: Amalfi for traditional, Portofino and Capri for Anytime, with the exception of a number of tables which are pre assigned, like ours. Service is very good and food has been excellent. I like the arrangement of the tables, sizes and arrangement is in a scattered manner with the wait stations being almost invisible. The wait stations are small and food is whisked away quickly. Unlike many cruise lines, the tables are not set with ten pieces of silverware at the beginning of a meal. There is only a knife and fork. But, after each course, the waiter or assistant waiter brings the appropriate new silverware to each person. It is done very subtly. The down side is that the crumbs are not removed from the table after the main meal and before dessert. Sabatini’s is the Italian specialty restaurant at $20 per person. It was outstanding. You only choose your Entrée. For all the other courses you are offered all the selections by a waiter with a tray. All the food was excellent except the Langostinos which was an Entrée selection. Tequila’s is the specialty steak house for $15 cover charge. In this restaurant you order from each course. At our table for six, three of us ordered the tenderloin cooked medium. Two of them were overcooked and one was correct. It was late and we didn’t want to take the time to complain. However, when I told the waiter that we wanted to make the 8:45 pm show, he didn’t even offer me coffee or tea and seemed to slow down the whole process. Everyone else was offered tea or coffee. I guess a man should have made that request. I still have trouble being an assertive woman in a “man’s world.” I want equal respect. Horizon Court is the buffet and is very limited in its selections for all meals. When we do have to eat there, I do appreciate that the tables are cleaned and someone is roaming offering coffee, water and juice at breakfast. There are a number of different places to take your tray besides in the buffet area! The Omlette Station, pizza bar and Trident Grill for hamburgers and hot dogs is two swimming pools away from the Horizon Court. That seems like poor planning.
There are multiple pools and hot tubs throughout Decks 14, 15 & 16. If you go in the Spa there is a wave pool and two hot tubs out doors. You can then use the steam and saunas in the dressing rooms and shower before returning to your room and it is free. However, nobody tells you this.
Gym: This area seems very small for this size ship but it is neatly arranged with treadmills facing the windows. At the beginning of the cruise the gym was very busy in the mornings but I understand that only lasted a couple of days. I did not use the spa or talk to anyone who did.
We appreciated the Laundromat facilities as did many other passengers. Wash is $1.00 and dry is 50 cents. I brought my own detergent.
Bars & Lounges: There are many of these scattered around the ship, some have music and others don’t. We dine with a couple who like to dance and are really enjoying the variety of music and dance venues.
Internet: We brought our laptop which was very easy to use. However, the only area for good wireless connection was on deck five midship. The price seemed good to us. It was $10.50 per 30 minutes and you buy a card at the Purser’s desk with passcodes. For those using ship’s computers, there is a good sized lab on Deck 7 across from Tequila’s restaurant. There were a number of computer classes at $25 or private lessons available at $75.
Boutiques are on Decks 6 & 7 midship and are nicely arranged around the atrium.
Entertainment: We prefer the large singing and dancing shows which were excellent. Both the Princess Theatre and the Vista Lounge were used for those presentations. There was the usual comedians and a wonderful piano player. The Princess Theatre is stadium seating from Deck 6 to Deck 7 but only one level. The lift between rows is enough for everyone to be able to see well. For big shows, be sure to arrive at least 30+ minutes early. One of the attractions we did not see was the Skywalkers Night Club which is aft on Deck 17 and approached by a walkway from the aft lift on Deck 16.
Public Restrooms: There are many, well placed restrooms about the ship. It is usually easy to find one. After dealing with a mother in a wheel chair for several years, I applaud Princess for their handicap facilities which are scattered about the ship. You can easily get two people, a wheel chair and have lots of room to turn around in the handicap stalls, plus the bonus of having a wheel chair accessible sink available in the stall. Hooray for the architect who figured it out. The down side is the paper towels, low quality recycled paper. Not a nice touch. But the restrooms are always clean.
Photoshop: It is well placed, mid ship with a wide walkway because it is a well traveled area. I was disappointed that at port disembarkation the photographer didn’t have any cute placards to stand behind announcing the port. It was just a picture on the ramp.
Kids’ Program: We did not personally inspect that area but it seemed large and kids of all ages were participating.
The cruise director’s staff seems to be busy, planning and executing a variety of activities to keep the passengers occupied.
The Future Cruise Specialist was busy selling cruises every day. I hope their travel agents were notified.
Our itinerary has been from FLL to St. Vincent, Grenada, St. Lucia, Martinique, St. Thomas, and Princess Cay. This should be the very end of the rainy season but we have had some rain everyday with lots of clouds. Today, December 26, is our last day at sea and the sky is still overcast at 1 pm. Definitely a day to be staying inside.
Our day at Princess Cay was probably the best weather. Many people expressed the wish to have several days there. This is our first time at Princess Cay. I am sure there were enough loungers for every person on the ship. Lots of sun and lots of shade were available. We got off the ship early and were able to secure one of the natural palapas. I understand you can also pre-reserve covered “huts” for your family. They take 2 or 3 loungers. There are many native vendors who take cash only and several shops operated by the cruise line where you can use your key card. There are several bars with roaming waiters. Service was great. Lunch was served in two different locations at noon. It was a nice variety of picnic food. You can eat at tables in a covered area or take food back to your lounger. The water is beautiful and there are lots of water activities. The only down side was that we had to leave the beach at 2 pm. All day would have been much better, especially since this was our only day of sunshine for the whole day.