Jody and Julianne Brown
Number of Cruises: n/a
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Sun Princess
Sailing Date: March 21 - 28, 1998
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Sun Princess (Princess)
Western Caribbean (3/98)
March 21 - 28, 1998
About Us: My wife (Julianne) is thirty-five, a director in the casualty division of a local insurance company. I turned thirty-nine on this cruise and teach/train students on
becoming mainframe computer programmers. We have cruised five times and once prior with Princess.
We were usually up till 1:00 a.m. every night. I am an early riser (5:00 a.m.) and Julianne sleeps until 8:00 a.m. most days. To my (and others) disappointment, due to the weather, I only saw the sunrise once the entire week (a great excuse to go again!).
Overview of the ship:
The condition of the Sun was immaculate everywhere we looked (similar to the Century and the Star Princess). True to the Princess creed, the cruise staff was very friendly
and they never said ‘no’ to any of our requests. A comfortable area for lunch and snacks was the 24-hour Horizon Court. The Terrace Grill outside the Horizon court served up big cheeseburgers, ballpark hotdogs and fries. Overall the food was very good in the dining room for dinner. The coffee (our morning ritual) was superb at all serving locations throughout the ship. The huge deck area included ping-pong tables, shuffleboard and basketball. Swimming pools (freshwater) and hot tubs are open
24-hours a day.
Our favorite spot on the ship was the Wheelhouse Bar, great decor, had the feel (but much larger) of Michael’s Club on the Century. Overall the entertainment has improved since our last cruise on the Star Princess. The use of two full sized showrooms and several lounges provides everyone a variety of entertainment each night. I would estimate 90% of the passengers on the ship were from America, England and Canada. As with our prior Princess cruise, the average age of the passengers was very mixed. My passengers age barometer: older than Carnival, younger than Celebrity, about the same as RCI. The cruise was sold out and we never felt crowded or stood in
long lines. The longest wait for a tender was only five minutes.
Our day by day review :
Saturday, March 21 - Weather: Partly Sunny / 70 degrees - Sea: Smooth
We flew to Ft. Lauderdale the prior day, so we arrived at Port Everglades early for embarkation at noon. Embarkation took about ten minutes, which included processing of ship charge card and checking all paper work. We were the second couple to enter the ship on this overcast, dry day. The staff greeted us with smiles and courteously guided us to our room. On our prior three cruises we had stayed in suites/mini-suites, none were available on this cruise (booked six months in advance), so we chose an inside room on the Baja deck midship. Surprisingly the room was very appropriate for our needs. With five suitcases unpacked, we still had three empty drawers and closet space to spare. The room was very quite, only on occasion did we hear anything other than chatter in the hallways during busy periods. We met our room steward ‘Alec’ who did a superb job cleaning our room all week.
The afternoon was consumed quickly inspecting the ship and then relaxing next to the pool. At 5:00 p.m. they announced they would delay the Bon Voyage deck party since a group of passengers were arriving late from New York due to bad weather. Most of these passengers were part of a large group of Buffalo Bills fans and players on board for an annual fan club cruise.
At dinner we met our friends we have cruised with before and met two other couples. The dining room looked amazingly small and quiet. Princess has done a wonderful job arranging this room into ‘small areas’ to achieve this feeling. Our food was excellent! We attended the Welcome Aboard Show hosted by the cruise director Paul O’Loughlin. He did an exceptional job and was very sociable with the guests all week.
Sunday, March 22 - Weather: Partly Sunny / 72 degrees - Sea: Smooth/Slight
The ship arrived on time at Princess Cays, Bahamas. This is a private island that Princess has developed into an enjoyable beach area for passengers. We relaxed on the beach in the morning and then returned to the ship for lunch early in the afternoon.
The food in the 24-hour Horizon court was very good. It offered a little bit of everything, including excellent pasta and fruits. The afternoon was utilized roaming the ship and participating in a trivia quiz game. This evening was formal dress and the Captains welcome aboard party in the atrium.
Our dinner was as good as the previous night. One note on the dinner selections: every night Princess offers an ‘always available’ choice of dinner selections. This is a great addition for passengers who enjoy one part of a meal. After seeing this, I ordered Caesar's salad every night with my dinner! After reading the uncomplimentary comments on RTC about ‘Pirates’, we decided to skip it in favor of relaxing in the Wheelhouse Bar and trying our luck in the casino. Almost everyone we talked with acknowledged the Pirates show was dismal.
Monday, March 23 - Weather: Mostly Cloudy, Spot Rain / 75 degrees - Sea: Rough
A day at sea and the sun only made a brief appearance in the morning. My wife reserved a one-hour full body massage for me (as a birthday gift) in the Spa at 8:00 a.m. Of course I was very relaxed for the rest of the day! It started raining late in the morning, so we participated in a few indoor activities. Dinner (casual) was again excellent, followed up by a very good show by entertainer/impressionist Wes Epae. This was the best birthday I have ever enjoyed.
Tuesday, March 24 - Weather: Cloudy, Windy, Rain / 72 degrees - Sea: Smooth
We awoke to a grey, windy, rainy morning in Ocho Rios. They either delayed or canceled most of the water excursions due to high winds and heavy rain. After hearing and reading so many bad stories about Ocho Rios, we were surprised how pleasant it was. We shopped for a few hours and enjoyed haggling with local store owners to get the best price on certain items. We observed a few people on the sidewalks passing out handbills, but it was not nearly as serious as in St. Thomas last September. When we said ‘no thanks’, we never heard any dissenting remarks. We purchased two pounds of Blue Mountain coffee for $32, which is one-third of what it costs here in the states. We went back to the ship and both took a much needed nap! Dinner (casual) was again excellent, followed-up by a very good comedian Billy Vader.
Wednesday, March 25 - Weather: Clear and Windy / 77 degrees - Sea: Smooth
We awoke to a picture perfect morning in Grand Caymans. After an excellent breakfast (including freshly squeezed OJ) we tendered to the shopping district of George Town. The taxi was $3 p/p to the Holiday Inn at seven-mile beach late in the morning. Note: the Ritz-Carlton has purchased this property and will start construction of a new resort this summer. The beach was beautiful, one of the nicest we have ever seen! The sun felt wonderful as we soaked up its rays for a couple of hours. In the afternoon my wife went to the Princess movie theater to watch The Rain Maker, I went to the casino and won some money playing ‘let it ride’. Dinner (semi-formal) was ok, but not nearly as good as the previous four nights.
Thursday, March 26 - Weather: Clear and Windy / 79 degrees - Sea: Calm
Little did we know the best day of the cruise was awaiting us! We found a cab ($1 p/p) and went to the shopping area (San Miguel) in Cozumel, Mexico. It was a beautiful sunny day and we spent more money here than all the previous ports together! We discovered many wonderful bargains on everything for which we looked. The island was very clean and the people who worked here were kind and helpful. We arrived to an almost deserted ship and consumed some adult beverages while soaking up the sun by the pool. Life is good!
We dressed up (tux and gown) for the last formal night and attended the Captains Circle Club party. Dinner was very good and the desert was wonderful. Our travel agent (Michael Ginsberg from Michaels Travel Center) treated us to a bottle of wine this evening.
After dinner we went to see Johnny Amobi who was a theater singer/dancer. I am not very fond of the theater, but this show was excellent. My wife said something about how he hit a ‘triple-octave’. She was impressed! I was fascinated watching Johnny and the dancers perform masterfully on the stage while the ship hit some rough seas.
After the show we put on our swim trunks and headed for a whirlpool. We returned to our room and ordered a snack from room service for the first time this week. Princess has a nice selection to choose from, and quick fifteen minute delivery service.
Friday, March 27 - Weather: Clear and Windy / 75 degrees - Sea: Moderate to Rough
This was our last day at sea. It was spent relaxing by the pool and saying goodbye to new friends met throughout the week. In the afternoon we were contestants in the ‘Newlywed and Not So Newlywed Game Show’. It was a good time for all, except my shoulder, which was hit very hard by my wife for one of my answers she did not like. We finished second and received a bottle of champagne. We were the ‘old’ couple having been married for sixteen years, the couple who won had been married for three months.
After packing, it was our last chance to empty the casino (ha!). For the week I came away with over a $300 profit (spent mostly on fine Cuban cigars). Dinner was very good, the desert was excellent, I think I gained 20 lbs. this week (my wife’s not talking about it)!
Saturday, March 28
Disembarkation was quick and smooth. One piece of our luggage was in the wrong pile, but was found after a five minute search. We boarded a bus to the airport and said goodbye to a great cruise!
This cruise was our second favorite, only behind a perfect cruise a couple of years ago on the Star Princess. We would highly recommend both Princess and the Sun Princess for anyone who enjoys great service, very good food and a relaxing atmosphere. The Sun is moving to Alaska in a couple of weeks for the summer and then returns to Ft. Lauderdale for ten and eleven day cruises to the Panama Canal. A new sister cruise ship, the Sea Princess, will take over the Western Caribbean winter/spring itinerary cruises later this year.
Jody and Julianne Brown