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  #1  
Old August 9th, 2005, 10:46 PM
Stormy Stormy is offline
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Default July 16 Caribbean Princess Review

My husband and I cruised on the Caribbean Princess, Western itinerary, on July 16. We had a balcony cabin, B623. Iím a teacher (math; so donít be surprised if my writing is a little choppy!) and weíre upper 30's to mid 40's in age. We have cruised once before on the Explorer of the Seas (Royal Caribbean) and enjoyed it immensely. We enjoyed this cruise, too. We were planning a 10th anniversary trip for March 06 to Southern Caribbean and were going to choose the line we preferred after this July trip. Now weíve changed our minds to go skiing instead, but thatís a different story!
Here we go; Iím a little scared to post this review as Iíve seen some get slammed for making negative comments! I have a few negatives and many positives:

Ft. Lauderdale: We flew in a day early to avoid the stress of making it to the ship on time in case of problems with the flight. Iím so glad we made this decision as we enjoyed a nice day in Ft. Lauderdale and got on the ship fairly early on Saturday. Ft. Lauderdale is a pretty nice city; we felt very safe walking around. We stayed at the Embassy Suites on 17th St. just up the road from the port. We received free airport and cruiseport shuttle service, also free breakfast! The hotel is pretty nice and the breakfast is good with many choices. After checking in around 1:30 we went to the lobby to find out how to get to the water taxi for some exploring.
We awoke the next morning and stepped out on our balcony to see the Caribbean Princess right before our eyes! That was pretty exciting. Upon checking in, I had inquired about the port shuttle and the desk clerk booked us for the first shuttle at 11:15. He told us to be in the lobby to check out by 11:00. At 11:00 an employee (the same girl who wasnít sure of the distance to the water taxi) pointed to a van that was to deliver us to the port. We were on our way at 11:15, just as promised.

Embarkation: This was pretty smooth. The line was long outside the building, and once the doors opened we moved fairly steadily. No complaints.

Cabin: As noted, we had B623. The cabin was very, very nice. It felt bigger than the balcony cabin on Explorer; I think itís wider. This was especially noticeable on the balcony. Thereís plenty of storage space in the closet and shelves. I really got a lot of use out of the desk/vanity table; I liked sitting down to dry my hair! The bed was perfectly comfortable, as was the room itself. We didnít miss the sofa we had on the Explorer. The bathroom is fine; Iíd say the shower is about 2 Ĺ feet square, except itís a hexagon! The shower curtain did not stick to me. The soap and body lotion are very nice; my husband used the shampoo and conditioner and said they were fine.

After checking out the cabin and the balcony, we called for MUTS reservations. They were showing movies on Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights. We then went to Sabatiniís for Sterlings reservations. Thanks to all you posters here on cruise critic, I knew to get this done right away! There were only a few people ahead of us in line for reservations. Thinking that Thursday was Caribbean night, thatís when we planned Sterlings; turned out we were wrong, but no matter. After that we went for lunch in the Horizon Court and some exploring of the ship.

Here are my general impressions of different aspects of the cruise:

Food and Dining: We ate in the dining room every night but one, when we went to Sterlings. We ate breakfast there twice, but never lunch. We had traditional first seating. This was a little strange because it was in the Palm Dining Room. Apparently, so many people wanted traditional that they made a section of the Palm a traditional section. Iíll discuss the service later...
The food in the dining room varied. I had trouble with the choices some nights; we don't like seafood, which limits us quite a bit! The salads were pretty good. We got the fettuccine alfredo once and it was excellent. The first night we had a pasta dish with chicken and broccoli - really good. The prime rib on the last night was awful; I sent it back. The deserts were good (I didnít like the hazelnut souffle, though). My husband said the coffee was good. I got Earl Grey tea every night!
The food in the buffet was also pretty good. Lots of breakfast choices; my husband got an eggbeaters omelet one morning and said it was good. The bacon was good; I like mine crispy and my husband likes his a little softer and we both found bacon to our liking. Hubby didnít try the coffee in the buffet. The toast is a challenge; sometimes thereís a long wait.
Sterlings was our best meal of the week. The steaks were excellent - tender, juicy and flavorful. Mine was undercooked, but they took it back and fixed that problem post haste! The caesar salad was way better than in the dining room. We had started a bottle of cabernet in the dining room and they got it for us to drink with our steaks. I did not like the chocolate pecan pie (I shouldíve known - I donít like pecan pie!).
The pizza by the pool was good; it was hot and fresh. The burgers were good, too. Thatís where we ate on the two sea days. The food on Princess Cays was OK. I dumped out my plate of salad after realizing that the dressing was warm - didnít want food poisoning.

This is getting pretty long. Iíll come back later with more impressions. Let me know if there are any questions; Iím happy to answer them as I poured over your posts for months before our cruise.
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  #2  
Old August 9th, 2005, 11:37 PM
Kellie in Texas Kellie in Texas is offline
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Default Come back soon

People always seem to apologize for the long reviews, but I think they are the most helpful. Lots of details is what we want! We'll be on the CB in late October (our first cruise). Looking forward to your next installment(s)!
Kellie in Texas
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  #3  
Old August 10th, 2005, 10:02 AM
PSCruiser PSCruiser is online now
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Great review so far! - keep it coming. I would be interested if you could list the dining theme for each night (if any) and which were the formal nights.
Thanks!
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  #4  
Old August 10th, 2005, 10:12 AM
atlcple2 atlcple2 is offline
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I agree, the more details the better! I will be on the CB on 9/3-9/10 and can't wait!!!!!
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  #5  
Old August 10th, 2005, 10:15 AM
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Stormy,

Keep the review coming!! We will be on this ship in November!

DH and I are teachers, too, living in VA Beach! DH teaches in Chesapeake, I just transferred from Ches. to VB. Where do you teach?? (If you don't mind me asking!)
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Old August 10th, 2005, 10:38 AM
mick1234 mick1234 is offline
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would love to hear more. thanks
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  #7  
Old August 10th, 2005, 03:31 PM
RM RM is offline
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Love the beginning.......please post more.
Thanks
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  #8  
Old August 10th, 2005, 03:46 PM
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Can't wait to read more.
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  #9  
Old August 10th, 2005, 04:17 PM
Stormy Stormy is offline
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Default A couple of quick answers

I'll get back to the review later:

Dining themes: Check this website: http://www.cruisingthecaribbeanprincess.com. It's fairly accurate for the western menus. I'll point out the differences as I saw them.

**Saturday: Sailaway. We had a very good pasta dish. Small pasta shells with chicken and brocolli in a really fresh-tasting tomato sauce. Excellent!
**Sunday: Italian night (different than the above link). We had the fettuccini alfredo from the anytime menu served with the grilled chicken as an entree. The fettuccini doesn't look like much, but it's great and very filling ( I hear it's not fattening though!). The tiramisu was excellent.
**Monday: Formal night and captain's cocktail party. We had the tournedos of beef tenderloin. Really tender with a delicious sauce. The potatoes and veggies were excellent; the squash was zucchini, which was better than any I've tasted.
Tuesday: Caribbean night. We thought this was Thursday. We are not seafood eaters, so we had the grilled chicken.
Wednesday: Formal night again. Captain's gala. We had the ravioli, but asked for the tomato sauce from the vegetarian menu. It was very good. This was lobster night for the seafood lovers.
Thursday: I guess this was chef's night. We went to Sterlings. Best meal of the week if you like red meat!
Friday: Landfall menu. A red, white, and blue American theme. I ordered the prime rib, which was awful. A quarter-inch thick, flavorless, with a strange gravy (not au jus). I sent it back and got the beef tenderloin from the always available menu. Hubby had gotten the same thing. Mine was a little tough and dry, but his was perfectly cooked. Baked Alaska was excellent!
Some nights we had caesar salad; others we had the salad on the menu. The caesar in Sterlings was the best, followed by the salad on Italian night.
Desserts I liked, but can't remember the nights, are: a black and white mousse; basically a dollop of each on a prettily decorated plate. Yum.
Princess Love Boat Dream available every night. The cheesecake was good; not too fluffy.

We had asked for traditional dining and were given that but in the Palm Dining Room. There were about 7 tables in our little traditional section. All but two were tables of 8. Next to us was a table of 4, a family with two of the most polite kids you've ever seen. We got a nice table by the window, but no tablemates! We had really wanted tablemates, but the other couple that was apparently supposed to be at our table never showed up.

Dress on formal nights was not over-the-top. I saw lots of cocktail dresses. For instance, I wore a nice black, knee-length dress one night and a formal top with black pants the next. I saw some very dressed up people in line for pictures, big fluffy dresses and Jessica Rabbit dresses, but I never saw anyone dressed up that much in our dining room.

mom2bcr: I teach at Kellam. Calculus and Math Analysis. How about you? At the table next to us was a teacher from Plaza Middle. The last night I heard her say the words "Ahead of the Curve", so I went up to her and asked her if she was from Va Beach. Apparently, someone else from Va Beach won a couple thousand at bingo. Small world, huh?

Thanks for the nice comments, and I'll be back!
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  #10  
Old August 10th, 2005, 04:30 PM
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Its the small reviews that people dont like. THEY are like teasers. More please
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  #11  
Old August 10th, 2005, 05:17 PM
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I agree with everyone else--the more the better!! Love the review so far--can't wait to hear of any excursions you took.
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  #12  
Old August 10th, 2005, 08:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormy

mom2bcr: I teach at Kellam. Calculus and Math Analysis. How about you? At the table next to us was a teacher from Plaza Middle. The last night I heard her say the words "Ahead of the Curve", so I went up to her and asked her if she was from Va Beach. Apparently, someone else from Va Beach won a couple thousand at bingo. Small world, huh?
GET OUT!

You must know BJ (in the library) and the two girls across the street that we use for babysitters! WE live right down the street from Kellam. In fact, our girls were zoned Kellam until this past spring Ė but you know the saga!! WE have one at Kemps Landing, one at Christopher Farms and our littlest is at Rollingwood Academy!

I will be at Landstown ES in the fall. DH teaches and coaches at Hickory High School in Ches.

I will be at Kellam on the 19th for a new teacher thingie! Even though Iíve been teaching forever and a day, since Iím new to VB, Iím a newbie and have to go to all the new teacher stuff!

This will be our third cruise Ė our first during the school year. We have cruised in the summer on the two before this one! DH turns 40 this fall and our 17th anniv. Is in December, so we decided to celebrate with a cruise! We booked this one LAST July!

Va Beach cruisers unite!! VB crusiní teachers unite! Itís a great way to begin/end a school year! SOOOOOO relaxing!

Iím glad to see there is someone else in VB that doesnít eat seafood. I feel like such an outcast sometimes, as it is all so readily available!!

Keep that review coming! I love to hear the good, the bad and the ugly!
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  #13  
Old August 10th, 2005, 11:51 PM
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Melb1127 Melb1127 is offline
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I love your review so far! Please keep it coming! Most of us know that it is all a matter of opinion and what you think was terrible I might love, but it's still great to hear other's opinions. Thank you!
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  #14  
Old August 12th, 2005, 12:36 PM
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Melanie,

You must be getting excited! YOu just have a week to go! Make sure you post a review when you get back!!

Terri
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  #15  
Old August 12th, 2005, 01:13 PM
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S.S.Oceanlover S.S.Oceanlover is offline
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Stormy,
Thanks for the update on the order of the dinners. I have updated my website to reflect these changes.
I'm sorry if my website caused you any inconvenience planning your dinners. I try to stay on top of things and keep it updated as much as possible.

Bill
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  #16  
Old August 14th, 2005, 05:59 PM
Stormy Stormy is offline
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Default Mom2bcr

Too funny! I can't believe we're practically neighbors.
Good luck with the start of a new year in a "new" city. Yes, I do know BJ; she's a real peach!
I know you're looking forward to November. I've taken a few vacations during the school year. It's a little stressful, coming up with a week's worth of lessons along with packing, etc! Worth it, though.
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  #17  
Old August 14th, 2005, 06:02 PM
Stormy Stormy is offline
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Default No apologies needed!

Quote:
Originally Posted by S.S.Oceanlover
Stormy,
Thanks for the update on the order of the dinners. I have updated my website to reflect these changes.
I'm sorry if my website caused you any inconvenience planning your dinners. I try to stay on top of things and keep it updated as much as possible.

Bill
Bill, no need to apologize. I appreciate everything that you all post on this board and elsewhere that helps to maximize my vacation time. It's so much fun when planning a vacation to read other people's ideas and experiences...
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  #18  
Old August 14th, 2005, 06:09 PM
Druke I Druke I is offline
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Stormy

I wouldn't worry about the few negatives you noted - you certainly should express your opinion.

Gross generalization, but those who often are slammed walk right into it, complaining about things over which no one has control - I am thinking of the poster who complained that the ship moved, and Princess had not warned her that it might!

Overall, I thought it a good review.
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Old August 14th, 2005, 07:18 PM
Stormy Stormy is offline
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Default Here's a little more...

Sorry it's taking me so long to get this done!
Druke, thanks for the kind words.

Iím back with more to add to the review:

MUTS: We liked the MUTS. The reservations only movies were Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights. We saw two movies, Fever Pitch and Meet the Fockers. It was fun to sit out on the deck and watch a movie. Unfortunately, Meet the Fockers was terrible, but thatís not Princessí fault! Both nights, the popcorn was really quite stale. No candy was offered, but we never starved. For people without reservations, they have a little ďstandbyĒ area and let you in as the movie is starting. I guess lots of people donít show up for their reservations.

Princess Cays: We had a good day there. We got off the tender and headed to the right and walked past the bar (the wait for the tender was so short itís not worth mentioning!). We found a nice little palapa (sp?) with 2 chairs and settled in. This was where we found the waiters to be the pushiest (on the Explorer, they were very pushy around the pool). We had our little place almost to ourselves for quite a while; I guess people take their time getting off the ship. We went kayaking in the morning and did the banana boat in the afternoon; both were good for a laugh. Our banana boat ride was a little ďtameĒ, but we heard that two people knocked their heads together that morning, so I guess the drivers were being understandably cautious. Had an excellent ďMonkeyritaĒ while relaxing under our palapa. The sea water was very warm and very shallow with very little wave action. Where we were there was LOTS of coral in the water; I was glad to have my water shoes. I saw many people stumbling in the water; they must have been stubbing their toes. On the other side where the water sports were, the sea floor seemed more sandy. The bathroom facilities were very clean and there were fresh water stations all around to quench your thirst. The lunch was OK. I had a burger and intended to split a hot dog with my husband. I took some salad, but threw it away when I realized the dressing was pretty warm. Back to the hot dog: I canít quite put my finger on it but the taste and texture were very strange.

The ship: Caribbean Princess is a very nice-looking ship. The first day is fun, just wandering around and checking everything out. The decoration is subdued and relaxing; a book that I have describes it as Pottery Barn, but I like Pottery Barn! We didnít have real problems with the layout; we had to look at the maps by the elevators, but thatís OK. There are many bars and clubs, all beautifully decorated. We never used the casino or the spa... We liked the dining rooms very much. With their low ceilings, they felt intimate like a restaurant. Iím comparing with the 3-story dining room on the Explorer, which was beautiful, just different.

As mentioned earlier, we had a balcony on the Baja deck. It was fully covered and very nice. Below us were the half-open Caribe balconies and below that the fully open Dolphin balconies. Courtesy prevents you from staring at people on balconies below you, but we couldnít help but peek down there when they were vacant. Youíd be surprised by how many people just drop their cigarette butts on the floor of their balcony! Who knew???

Earlier I failed to mention Scoops, the ice cream parlor. We went there a couple of times; I thought $1.95 was reasonable.

We especially liked to pool-situation: no salt! The arrangement of the pools is nice, too. The goings-on at each pool are isolated from all the others. Amazingly, when a movie is showing, you canít hear it at the other pool; likewise with the music. We never used the Calypso or Neptune pools, just the aft pool and the spa pool.

Sea Days: On the first sea day, we had breakfast in the dining room, went back to the room to brush our teeth and headed for the aft pool. Many of the lounge chairs were in the shade, as was the pool itself. We chose seats and camped out til lunchtime. We were a deck above the pool and could see the wake from our seats. We could hear splashing and assumed it was coming from a nearby kiddie pool; it turns out it was the wave-action in the pool! The depth of the water was fluctuating by close to a foot due to the ocean movement; very cool.
Here we got to witness chair-hogging. Two ladies kept their belongings on 3 chairs. Some of the time 2 of the chairs were occupied, most of the time one was used; some of the time none were used! Overall, though, I didnít see much of this, though.
We went to the pizza place for lunch and had a little trouble finding a seat. Good pizza; nice and hot. We had vacated our seats at the aft pool and decided to head to the spa pool up front. Well, this had to be the hottest place on the ship. We immediately got in the pool, laughing about the waves and commenting on the warmth of the water. We then decided to find a seat; all that were available were in the sun. I asked a waiter for the nearest restroom; he directed me to one in the spa, which had a sign stating it was for spa patrons only. I ended up going back to the restroom near the buffet. Someone told me later that they used that restroom anyway.
Deciding the heat was too much, we headed back to the aft pool. We found seats and got in the pool. Itís much cooler! This pool is completely shaded for much of the day and the water is refreshing. We played around in the waves again, sunned ourselves some more and thoroughly enjoyed the day.
We did have reservations for a wine tasting, but we cancelled them because we were enjoying the pools so much...
The second sea day was spent almost the same way. This time we stayed with the aft pool and ate at the burger grill for lunch. After lunch we managed to get primo lounge chairs in front of the pool, overlooking the wake. We enjoyed a lime daiquiri (the margaritas are better-not as sweet) while watching the wake disappear into the horizon. I will say that when you order a drink from a waiter at the pool or on Princess Cays, it takes a while: about 10 minutes. Iím sure theyíre busy taking other orders, but donít think youíll order a quick drink and be on your way...
All in all, two very pleasant sea days.
Be back again with the rest, especially port days. Again, if you have questions, do tell!
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Old August 15th, 2005, 04:11 PM
RM RM is offline
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Really enjoying your review. Can't wait for more!
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