I have never cruised with Caribbean Princess. My husband and I(in our 30s) will be going in November to the Eastern Caribbean(St Martin/St Thomas/Princess Cays). We have a balcony cabin.
Anyone have any helpful hints on what to expect at Embarking/disembarking, any activities on the ship to do? What excursions to choose while on port? Anytime dining vs Traditional? How was the food & service? Or anything you can tell me is helpful.
We basically want to relaxing experience and not a really active vacation. Our last cruise we cruised with Carnival and didn't realize it was a "party" boat.
Hi Jenny_W, welcome to Cruise-Chat. While I have not cruised on that particular ship with Princess, we have sailed with them 5 times, due for our sixth in November. My personal opinion, is that Princess is the best. We've sailed with Carnival, Costa, Royal Caribbean, NCL, HAL, and Princess. We tried anytime dining 2 cruises ago and have stuck with it. Some people prefer to be seated at the same table, with the same wait staff. We found that by doing anytime dining, we were not rushed to get back from excursions or rushed to get ready for dinner.
The service on all of our Princess cruises has been outstanding. The cleanliness of their ships has been impeccable. And, to our tastes, the food has been wonderful.
They have adult fresh water pools (and do enforce no children) as well as family fresh water pools, and a lap pool. You can do as much or as little as you desire. They have wine tasting, ice carving, fruit carving, games, etc. There is a night club on board, I think it's called the sky lounge. They have the movies under the stars, which we really enjoy.
St. Maarten is a good place for shopping. There is a beach near where you dock. A lot of people like Orient Beach, it's a clothing optional beach. St. Thomas is also a good place for shopping. We normally take the ferry to St. John and a taxi to Trunk Bay-it's absolutely beautiful there. Princess Cay is their private island, plenty of lounge chairs, they have a bar-b-que, there's good snorkeling, and they have water toys.
If you have any specific questions, please let us know and we'll be happy to try and answer them. Best wishes and have a wonderful cruise!
My wife and I did back to back Eastern/Western Caribbean trips a year ago on Caribbean Princess. She is a beautiful ship and we had a wonderful time. Interestingly, during our first week, we had a fabulous room steward and dining room wait staff. The second week the staff was mediocre and the room steward was just okay, not outstanding. We have always done traditional dining as we enjoy getting to know the wait staff and interacting with them.
One piece of advice that I would offer is to use the Acknowledgement of Excellent Service cards that Princess provides at the Purser's Desk. It allows you to recognize great service, and the employees almost prefer receiving the cards than monetary tips. Apparently when they receive specific numbers of cards, they become eligible for additional time off, and certain promotions. In each case, I handed the card to the specific employee and they were extremely grateful.
St. Thomas is a great port for shopping - just ask my wife. Princess Cays was a lot of fun but it does get very hot there and shade is at a premium. We rented one of the cabanas, but almost got shut out as they were overbooked and we were late getting off the ship. They provided a nice respite from the sun.
The Sky Lounge that Penny was referring to is a wonderful hangout for you young folks, particularly late at night. It is pretty loud and boisterous for us older types. We commented that Princess should use the venue during the day for some events as it has spectacular views off the stern.
I know you will have a great time. Let us know how it goes. Papa Bear
I don't have too much to add to the previous posters' comments, but the Caribbean Princess was my first cruise so I will always remember it fondly. My husband also proposed while we were aboard. The ship is beautiful and very elegant. The crew was wonderful. I wouldn't hesitate to go again.
I really enjoyed just sitting in the aft nightclub and sipping drinks at night; it was in such a cool location. In St. Maarten, I would recommend the shipwreck snorkel; we really enjoyed that. Best snorkeling we've done yet.
We did anytime dining, and it was fine, but having sailed on Carnival twice since with traditional dining, I found I prefer traditional. I like getting to know the waiters, etc.
Have a great time!
Booked on Carnival Freedom, Feb. 2012 (Cozumel, Costa Rica, Panama)
NCL Gem, Sept. 2011
NCL Jewel, Feb. 2011
NCL Dawn, Sept. 2010
NCL Spirit, Feb. 2010
NCL Gem, March 2009
RCCL Explorer of the Seas, Feb. 2008
Carnival Miracle, May 2007
Carnival Conquest, April 2006
Caribbean Princess, Feb. 2005
We were on the Caribbean Princess in April and absolutely loved anytime dining. We enjoyed the waiter we had on the second night and always asked to be seated in his section after that. It was fun to sit with different people every time as we made many new friends. Not once did we get an unfriendly group and there was an interesting mix of age groups and personalities.
You will love the readily available and delicious food. We ate in the main dining room every night but enjoyed breakfast, lunch and numerous other light meals at the 24 hour buffet. It is nice to sometimes grab a plate at the buffet (sure they have room service, but with all that choice I like to get my own) and dine on the balcony.
Our next cruise is with Celebrity and I am not looking forward to fixed seating again. We were spoiled on the Caribbean Princess.
Our room stewart always seemed to be standing near our door and gave us excellent and most cheerful service. I would have taken him home with me if I could have.
When we first arrived at port in Fort Lauderdale we were inimidated by the huge line but found that it moved surprisingly quickly.
Our only complaint of the entire cruise in fact, was when we dropped off our luggage at the ship below signs that read "our porters are salaried - please do not tip" or something to that effect. In spite of this, the young man who took our bags said, "hi, I will be your porter for the next week and would appreciate a tip". Since we are rather fond of having our luggage while on a cruise we thought it wise to tip in spite of the sign. Others told us they had the same experience.
We've cruised with Princess several times; we love the Carribean Princess! Its great. You will see a great difference between Carnival and Princess, even though they are owned by the same company. We love the Eastern Carib and we have been on the Western and the Southern Carib on Princess and Celebrity.
Be glad you got a balcony, you can eat breakfast, that can be delivered to your room, while you dock at each port. It is really enjoyable. November is a great time to be in the Carribean.
Embarking, have all your documents completed adn have your credit card adn passport ready for viewing. Don't forget to hand carry anything that you may want for the first couple of hours on the ship because it may take a few hours before you see your luggage after you get on the ship. Like stuff to freshen up after travelling all day or swimsuits and such.
There will be plenty of activities on the ship; take sometime adn enjoy the splender of the ship. Use the map and walk around. Find your dining room when you first get on, don't wait until dinner time. It's a beautiful and huge ship.
We really enjoyed the Wild Thang boat ride, don't rememebr what port but you can find it on the list of excursions online. It was a blast. Go snorkling or kayaking, that was great too!
Do what you want, relax or take a boat ride. Princess is way different than Carnaval.
Thanks for all the replies. I have a better idea of what to expect now. I'm really looking forward to our vacation which is next month. We've never had a balcony cabin before. It should be nice. We are on the Baja Deck. I heard that many of the balcony cabins are not completely covered and do not feel that private. I hope ours will be nice. It would definitely feel nice to have breakfast on the balcony and be away from all the crowds on the Lido deck.
My husband and I pre-reserved our excursions as well. We are pretty much just doing the relaxing island tours with swim opportunities at St Maarten and St Thomas. We were thinking of the Skyride to the mountain top too. Has anyone ever been? And at Princess Cays we were thinking of snorkeling at our own leisure.
We are currently on the waitlist for traditional dining as we originally chose anytime dining. Last time we were on Carnival we missed all the shows because of traditional dining and we are not night owls. This time we should try to stay up later to see the nightlife.
Did anyone go to the spa? How are their prices?
How is the "Movies Under the Stars" in the evening? Do you have pre-reserve a chair etc?
I'm so excited to go. The last time we cruised was in 2004. I think cruising is the best way to enjoy your vacation...you just sit back and relax. :-) Thank you all for your suggestions and comments on your experiences. I am sure Richard and I will have a great time!!!
We had the Movies Under the Stars on the Sea Princess and did not have to pre-reserve a chair. We went up early, though, ordered a drink and found where we wanted to sit. I have read from other posts that they did pre-reserve chairs, but we didn't have to. The spa prices are much less expensive when you're in port. They will also run specials once you are on board and you will receive these offers with your Princess Patter (daily news letter). The prices range from $85/up, depending on what you choose. I know you and Richard will have a wonderful time, and since it's been nearly 3 years, will really enjoy it. Best wishes!
Lots of great information here. We just sailed on the Caribbean Princess in May on the same cruise. Had a great time as I'm sure you will also. I'll add my two cents here on a couple items: Movie under the stars: Although we didn't go to ANY of these (I wanted to wife didn't) we did mosy by them frequently and found plenty of seating available always. You're on the Baja deck...thats a good deck, one lower and your privacy is somewhat diminished as the decks from Baja lower "fan outward" and the people above can look down on your every move. We were on the Aloha deck and had no privacy issues. The higher up on this ship the better in my opinion. I would never do any dining other than anytime dining. Have done both and absolutely love the flexibility of anytime. We didn't wait more than 5 minutes ever to be seated (but I'm not sure we ate at "peak" dining times either). Have a great time!!! I know you will!