Joe C MacQuarrie
Number of Cruises: 11
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Sun Princess
Sailing Date: January 28th, 2005
Itinerary: Southern Caribbean
Prior to my trip on the 1/28/05 Sun Princess, I watched all over the net like a hawk for any information I could find on the Sun. It was going to be our first Princess after being on 10 prior cruises with other lines (Carnival, RCCL, HAL, Celebrity and Cunard). We are in our mid-30's. I promised myself that I would post a quick review for others that were anticipating their Sun cruise, so here it is!
The Sun was great! We had a fantastic cruise. Here is a quick rundown of the different areas onboard:
Very clean, and it was beautiful (especially for being 10 years old!). Her colors are light, with the atrium being very elegant in white marble, with palm trees all around. The color theme is light pastels, and I noted that the carpeting was in great condition. The ship is well cared for, and I felt it was kept in great maintenance. I have been on a 3 year old ship with another line that showed MUCH more wear and tear than the Sun. Overall, it was a great ship to be on, as it is just the right size to be big enough to offer options and small enough to learn your way around quickly and get from one place to another.
Sewage smells? Yes, there are weird occasional whiff's in particular hallways, and only occasionally. My understanding from several others is that it has to do with the placement of the sewer venting pipes, and when the wind blows just right it "backdrafts" into certain areas. Not a big deal at all.
Our cabin, A635, balcony, on the Aloha Deck, aft, was great. Yes, it was a little smaller than those on other ships I have been on, but it was totally adequate. The only real difference I saw was that there was not a little mini-sofa in the room. I personally never use them anyway, so I did not care. Those mini-sofas usually just hold on to my snorkel gear for me! :) The bathroom was fine, and the shower was just fine in size, too, similar to every other ship I have been on.
I heard a ton of mentions of poor a/c on the ship on these boards prior to our cruise, especially about inside their cabins. Not so on our cruise. In fact, we had a hard time keeping it warm enough at times in our cabin due to the icy a/c. Public areas seemed fine, too. I did remember it being kind of stuffy in the vista lounge one night, but it was also beyond standing room only for that particular show. That could happen in any land based hotel, too.
Many people commented on how unstable they thought the ship was. I did not think it was the ship, but rather the rougher seas throughout our entire trip. I did not think it was bad at all, but a few we overheard did. I have been on much, much worse. I have also read that on other ships that were out at the same time frame, their cruises were a bit rocky like ours, too. I think it was the weather, truly. I guess it has been that way in the Caribbean for a few weeks. Another thing... ships move! Yep, I know it is a shocker for some, but it happens! :) (it always amazes me to hear people complaining about the ship moving!) I personally like being "rocked" to sleep.
I was happy that they did not seem to be hawking you constantly for pictures. At the ports they were usually there, but easy to avoid. I thought it was much less obtrusive than on other cruises.
Were all great, friendly, courteous, and overall great service for us. The captain had a real sense of humor, which I appreciated. On one sea day he announced that the nearest land was only 2 miles away... unfortunately it was 2 miles beneath us, and he felt it best not to offer any excursions to visit it! :)
The food and service in the dining room was awesome for us. We had late seating, traditional. The only real complaints that I ever heard about dinners had to do with the Personal Choice dining room (long waits at peak times, carrying those tacky light up coasters, sitting with others that they do not want to and never getting to know their tablemates, etc). I believe that PC is not for everyone, and that is where that comes from. We love traditional late seating, and will always stick with that. I thought that the soufflés at dessert were the best I have ever had. Our second night out we had a steak that was one of the best steaks I have ever eaten, hands down. The biggest praise is about the Lobster Tails... I almost did not order them as usually they tend to be tough, or over cooked or flavorless. NOT on this cruise, those were the BEST lobster tails I have EVER eaten! I heard everyone we talked with at our table and beyond agree with us on that.
Horizon court for breakfast and lunch were ok. I never had more than 7 or 8 people in front of me in line, but somehow I just do not like the way it is laid out. The donuts with custard that appear periodically on some mornings were great :)... and they had the "usual" breakfast foods (oatmeal, great fruit- fresh and ripe, eggs, sausage, bacon, etc) and lunch was a different theme everyday. Adequate, decent food. Not the best layout, and I have seen much larger selections on other ships, but it works ok.
Don't miss the ice cream every day from 3:30-4:30pm in the Horizon Court. I tried not to forget every day, as it was good. Two different kinds of ice cream every day, along with good topping choices. They also put out fresh cookies about this time.
Pizzeria was good. It is not fast, but it is good. Plan 30-45 minutes for your meal there. I mention this, as each pizza is hand made to order, and it is not just a walk up and grab kind of place as I have experienced on other ships.
We went to the alternative rest- the Sterling Steakhouse one evening with our cruise critic friends. It was good. $15 service charge per person. I think they did the best they could with what they had to work with (being the ship was never built to have this extra rest.). They set off a section of the Horizon court in the bow for it. It was nicer than I thought it would be, quiet. The table clothes were awful, a kind of weird cowboy pattern that did NOT go with anything (like for one thing the tropical carpeting!), but we just laughed it off. :) We had a great dinner with our friends. The filet's were good all around the table but one person got the porterhouse and it was full of gristle and fat. Overall, it was good, but I think I still prefer the main dining room for dinner on this ship. Other alternative rest. on other lines leaves this one in the dust.
The drinks on the ship were at a very good price point. Martinis were $4.95, whatever kind you choose. (I am used to seeing $6.95-$7.95 on other lines) Absolut and soda, etc was $4. I thought those prices were very reasonable.
Well, we really did not make it to any production shows, so I cannot comment on them. We did go to see the comedian one night who was FANTASTIC! We also went to see the ventriloquist, who was surprisingly entertaining and was not the "hoaky" experience I expected, but very funny instead.
As far as music, the pool music was good, but there was one particular piano guy in the atrium that was soooo bad! I think overall they could use a little improvement on their musical talents that they have right now across the ship.
Were great! We had some rearranging of ports due to a little mechanical issue (holding tank leak) that we experienced in our first port, Antigua, and did not leave there until around 12Midnight. I personally think that the captain handled it great. We were supposed to go to Barbados for our second port, but had to go to St. Maarten to meet a dive team that were to take care of the issue with the holding tank. They replaced our later St. Maarten call with Tortola, which was great. I think they handled the whole situation very well, and it was nice that they replaced the port with something cool instead of the old stand-by of San Juan or Nassau. They kept us well informed the entire time.
Princess Cays was awesome! What a perfect end to a fantastic cruise! It is an ideal setting... picture perfect, great facilities. Water is a bit chillier than the Caribbean, but once you are in it is refreshing. Snorkeling is ok, not great, but fun to take a whirl around and look at the fish and coral. We rented a beach cabana, which was a great thing, especially for $8 for the day! We used it as a "home port" for our little group of cruise critic friends. I personally liked that the cabanas are on the one side of the docks and the music and festivities are on the other. It was away from the music, which was a good thing... the guy singing sounded like Bob Dillon trying to sing reggae... yikes! We had a wonderful lunch that they provide on the island, with BBQ chicken, burgers, etc... one note, though... they only served it until 1:30p, and some of our friends missed lunch! We waited until the very last tender to go to the ship. It really made our whole cruise critic group laugh to watch a HUGE line of people stand forever starting about an hour and half before the last tender to the ship. I do not understand why people were "herding" in line to rush back to the ship! Our cruise critic group all merely relaxed in the sun under a palm tree and waited for the lines to go away :)
A wonderful cruise. Partly due to the wonderful new friends we made from cruise critic! I would do this ship and itinerary again. I do love some of the other ships we have been on a little more because of some of the extra things they offer due to the fact that they are newer... but I would not hesitate to return on the Sun. In fact we are on the Sun's younger sister, the Dawn on 3/10/05 and I am really looking forward to it. I like this size ship personally. Anything in the 70-90 gross ton range just seems to have the right amount of things to offer you and not too many people.
Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have!