I am not an expert typist, so this will be more like random thoughts.
This was cruise #17 for my wife and myself (Carnival 8, Royal Caribbean 5 and this was #4 on Princess) we previously cruised on The Regal, Grand and Golden Princess. We are both mid 40's. Sailed with 2 other couples right around our age.
Overall 5 smiley faces out of 5 possible!
Embarkation? A breeze. But then again when the Princess transfer staff makes you stand around in the airport for close to 1 hour and you arrive on the ship AFTER the muster drill, check in will always be quick. No lines, but yes, the photographer was still on duty. I'm still not sure why the transfer staff did not seem in any hury to get us on board. This was the 1st time in 17 cruises that we missed the muster drill. A great commercial to arrive the day ahead. No weather problems, just the combined natural disaster of FLL Airport/ cruise/springbreak traffic. More on the airport later...
Once in our cabin, it was off to the pool bar to meet some cruise critic friends as well as another couple (friends of ours) that booked just 2 weeks before the cruise. I should mention that we were travelling with another couple (Patricia and Ray) and they had no idea (and neither did my wife) that these friends were meeting us onboard the ship. It was hard to keep a secret, but it was a great surprize! Also met up with 'Tommycruiser' who started the roll call thread long before we decided to cruise.
Food? Overall excellent to very good! Some things I remember well (dining room), the roast pork, the french onion soup, ceasars salad, escagot, prime rib, lobster tail, baked alaska...
Horizon Court and Caribe Cafe were very good also. Made to order omelets, and sea day eggs benedict were good. The seafood buffet was very good. I prefered the 'hot stuff' on formal nights. Crab legs, Caribbean lobster tails (a bit more 'shelly' than a traditional lobster tail ,but still excellent) shrimp and the other dishes were all excellent. There is something about filling a plate with all you can eat lobster tails, that can't be beat. If you like great sandwiches wait till the Horizon Court around 3pm (afternoon snack) greta choices, ham, turkey, salami, cheese, lettuce, tomato, just like the Carnival delis, however only available (that I saw) afternoons and sometimes late at night - not on the lunch buffet??????????
Pizza, burgers, etc...PIZZA (IMHO) WAS THE BEST CRUISE PIZZA I HAVE HAD. I ate way too much during the week. Note the pizza closed at 11:00pm, and the pizza in the Caribe Cafe later sat around too long and was not nearly as good. Burgers, hot dogs, fries and chicken at the poolside grill were good We were convinced though, the the newest food service staff works here, and it was hard to communicate what you wanted. A definite language barrier!
Here is my food complaint- free ice cream. Last year on the Golden, you could get ice cream for around 2 hours in the afternoon at the buffet. Here if you did not pay extra at "Scoops" you did not get it.
Sterling Steak House:
My NY strip was simply the best steak I have ever eaten. Similar reaction to the filets at our table. Our lone complaint was the ribeye, it seemed VERY fatty. The sauteed mushrooms were marvelous, as was the chocolate pecan pie and the peach fried turnover for dessert. I forgot to mention the yummy clam chowder as well as the spinach/ artichoke dip appetisers. Well worth the $15 per person. Be sure to have a "berry margarita" on the rocks.
We had late traditional seating and were moved after night 1 to accomadate our friends. Very good service overall. We dined with our cruise critic friends, Tom, Beth and Bob, and enjoyed our dinners very much. Jose our head waiter was great. He even arranged a fresh baked WHOLE apple pie for Bob, although it was never on the dinner menu. He had our waiter serve it and another waiter bring ice cream! When we set it up earlier in the day, we expected one piece, but got a whole pie. Needless to say, he enjoyed a nice tip from our table!
Overall good. Bert Stratton was fantastic (however although cramped and crowded he was much better nightly in the Crooners Lounge then his one show in the Explorers Lounge) funny, entertaining talented, he has it all.
Production show, only saw "Let's Rock" and it was top level high school production at best. Missed moves, uninspired vocals, you get the picture. For the first time ever, my wife skipped the second one 'Caribbean Caliente' as the 'Vegas style' shows are usually her favorite. No inspiration after seeing "Lets Rock"
Comedians were funny, Carl Strong was my favorite. Miguel Washington and Steve Morris and others were good, not great
Komika is hard to explain. They performed two nights and yes it was me that Tina took a liking to during her last show. I thought I would hate their show, but actually found them an entertaining change of pace.
Never had a problem finding a seat (even arriving just before show time) in the Princess Theater. However The Explorers Lounge, specifically for Carl Strong and Bert Stratton were standing room only!
The least crowded casino I have encountered on a cruise. Slots were actually good to us, as my DW won $150 early on the quarter machines, and I later won $250 on the dollars, then another $100 for DW on the quarters. We did give some back, but it was our first real profit in a cruise casino. Played some roulette (did horrible) and a little 3 card poker (did o.k.) but that was it.
We LOVED it!
During the day, it broke up the sun bathing/pool boredom. Movies like Grease, Finding Nemo, BIG, Spderman 2, Toy Story were shown and fun for all. You could go to one of the other pools if not interested. At night, the 2 rotating movies were 'Shall We Dance" and 'Becoming Julia' yuk! I think they could have done better here. I did like the transformation after 5:30 pm to a mini drive in theater complete with chair covers, popcorn, blankets and more. We saw some of the teen late night movies like Spderman 2 and Mean Girls also. I even stayed up until after 2:00am one night to watch "The Village". We did not have a late night Rocky Horror Picture Show, as I heard before cruising...
It was amazing how clear the screen was at all times during the day.
Upgraded to C622, extended balcony. It was nice also. The extended half open/half covered balcony was a nice touch. Room for 4 chairs and 2 tables plus!
Shower was small. I am a BIG guy, and I had the hardest time I've ever had getting around in the shower.
Lots of storage, Steward kept our ice full, although a couple of days he forgot beach towels and didn't get our room clean to early afternoon. Can't really complain overall!
Fantasy Day Sail (see seperate review)
Duck Tour - in my opinion not worth $50 plus each. My previous 'duck' experience was in the Wisconsin Dells were they made good use of 'amphibious capabilities' In St. Marteen, once in the water and once around the bay and then once out was not as compelling. Plus their sound system sucked. Our guide was some entertainer from St. Marteen, and he cared a whole lot more about himself, then he did about giving us information. The rum punch. (complimentary) was awful! Find a better sight seeing tour if this is what you want.
Day started out cloudy/rainey, so we spent a relaxing day onboard. All reports were that the island is back to it's beautiful self after the hurricane fixups. Sorry we missed the barbecue lunch
We did an open booking on board, and have already reserved the 10/8 cruise for us and our 13 year old son!
We did not have any lounge chair problems, and saw chairs being tagged for 30 minute in******** on a couple of days. Never experienced any long lines and always found a place to sit and eat without alot of searching.
Lots of spring breakers on board, and I wonder how some of them (that did not appear close to 21) always had alcohol, but that is not my problem. Saw some "very interesting" interaction between cute spring break college girls and male crew members, no wonder some people get into trouble ! Did not have any problems finding our way around after the first day or so.
Always plenty of terminals, loved the no connection fee. Great way to stay in touch with the kids back home! Hey Princess, how about some 'Packages' witha price break for internet users?
Because of our late arrival, we did not meet everyone. Leanne, hope you had a good time, perhaps we will meet in the future. Tom and Beth (and Bob) we had a great time at dinner, and too bad our darn horse didn't move just a little quicker Judi it was great to say hello, as it was to Sheri. Where was everyone Sunday night at 10????? Don't know much about Wes and others, stop back and say hello!
We had 'cream 6' and were off by 10am. Tranfers to the airport were much smoother. The airport was a DISASTER! We flew Delta and waited over 2 hours in line to check in. I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHT FLL AND THE CRUISELINES DO NOT DO SOMETHING TO WORK ON THIS PROBLEM. it makes for a bad ending to a cruise. Every flight I saw (including ours0 was delayed. Maybe a few more security people or a few more well structured lines or something would help. Luckily we had a direct flight, so although late we didn't miss a connection like alot of others we met in the airport and on our flight. Our friends flew Southwest and check in was only 30 minutes but they left late so they missed aconnection. Interestingly, we were late arriving (and leaving Atlanta) because of the FLL air traffic, so it is a REAL problem. I'm not sure how to fix it, but there must be answer. I think there were 6 or 7 ships in port, and I heard that Sunday there were 9, so I guess it was even worse...I just cannot imagine.
O.K. I will be happy to answer any question that I can, we love cruising, and I think that we have decided except for the RCCL Voyager class, we love Princess the best. Overall my complaints are small, and this was our smoothest sailing, best weather cruise yet! As you can tell we loved the ship, because in less than7 days we have already booked her again!