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Caribbean Princess Southern Caribbean Nov 24, 2012 Review

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This cruise was a relaxation cruise. I was originally looking at 10 day cruises but due to lack of vacation time I had to reduce it to 7 days. I looked at Princess, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise lines. I chose Princess because they were a brand that I wanted to try, I was not familiar with the Royal Caribbean ship (Vision of the Seas) that I was considering for the 10 day, it was a smaller ship and I’m not a fan of the NCL Sun although a good cruise can be had on that ship. When I booked the cruise with Princess, they had a sale on and in addition, I was given a discount because I had sailed on Carnival Cruise Line (Carnival and Princess are owned by Carnival Corporation).

 

On my first cruise I was so tired by the end of the first day on the ship that I missed activities. I now fly in the day before embarkation and relax. This time I flew into Fort Lauderdale and booked the Best Western Plus Oakland Park. The hotel is the type where the rooms are outside. The hotel received bad reviews on Cruise Critic and other sources. I was amazed when I opened the door to my room. It looked better than some other brands upscale rooms for almost twice the price. The free shuttle from the airport to the hotel and from the hotel to the port was great. The hotel had a swimming pool inside a high security fence and a bar at the end of the pool. There was also a coin laundry in the building opposite the office. The office staff was very helpful and professional. There was a hot breakfast (free) the next morning with scrambled eggs, sausage and breads (cereal was available as well as coffee and juice).

 

The major plus for me is that I like a hotel that is within walking distance of restaurants and stores so that I can pick up last minute items for the cruise. There was a shopping mall at the next corner (within sight of the hotel) and good food near it. The Coral Mall has a Publix Supermarket, Target and several other stores inside the mall. There was a Wendy’s half a block down one street from the mall and the best sub/pizza shop across from Target; Time Square Pizza. They had the best Italian sub (great bread, filled with meat and cheese) with a drink for $8.

 

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Best Western Plus Oakland Park

 

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Coral Ridge Mall down the street

 

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Embarkation was a breeze. I arrived at about 11:25am and was on the ship by 12:30pm. They had a line for VIP but there was not many in it. Princess has moved into the 21 Century by using hand held devices to check you on and off the ship. No more large machine to slide the sign and sail card into, they scan it like the devices in supermarkets. This was first time that I arrived on the ship before 2:00pm and was able to go directly to my cabin which is great because I use a carry on. I met my Steward in the hallway and went inside.

 

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Arrival at the port

 

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Line for check in

 

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The cabin was B228 (11th floor, forward). I was upgraded to the cabin by Princess (email a month before sailing). I was originally in D716 (9th floor, aft) which I thought would be better but I accepted the upgrade because I had never sailed in a forward cabin and have considered port hole cabins on Carnival and wanted to see if the motion was any different there then the midship and aft cabins that I had occupied on my previous 10 cruises. First let me talk about the cabin and then I will talk about the motion. The inside cabin has Princess beautiful off white and wood trim with a large framed mirror over the bed (love that décor). When you first walk in, to the right is the open closet (first for me), a tall cabinet with large shelves and the safe. The bathroom is across from the closet. I had the beds in the king sized configuration since I was cruising solo. There was a round glass top wooden table at the corner of the foot of the bed. I put that in the closet because it was in the way. The bed had two night stands on each side with two drawers and about three drawers in the desk. The refrigerator was in the corner below the flat screen TV and counter. I love that Princess keeps the ice bucket in the frig to make the ice last longer. There was a large bottle of water and 4 cans of Coke products in the refrigerator. The bathroom was standard except that this was the smallest shower that I had ever used. I affectionately refer to it as the girdle. The shower head with permanently affixed to the wall and there is little room to move around in there. The closet was really big and had the most hangers that I recall on cruise. These are real hangers that come off the rack not the type that have the bottom portion that slip into a hook on the permanent part that stays on the rack. There was a hair dryer above the desk and a phone with your name on the caller ID. Your name is also on the mail box outside your cabin. There was serious motion (high winds and moving fast), more than I have experienced before in rougher waters. The drawer in the night stand kept sliding open and it got so bad one night that I took all the unused hangers off the rack because they were making an annoying noise all night. The bed was shaking at times during the night. I would not recommend this area of the ship to someone who is sensitive to motion.

 

 

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Elevators

 

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B228

 

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Large Open Closet - Cabinet from floor to ceiling to the right

 

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Refrigerator

 

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Shower (girdle)

 

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Desk, Phone, and Hair Dryer

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Love the pictures and all the details. Thanks for taking the time to do this. Most helpful.

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After settling in my cabin, I took a walk around the Lido Deck looking for eats and checking out my home for the next 7 days. The burgers looked good but I wanted something more at that time. The ice cream bar was my first target (my favorite on the ship). I wanted to try the shakes that I had heard about but wanted a cone for now. I made a visual on the pizza but plenty of time for that later. The pools are nice but I almost never use the pools on cruise. I expected more people outside but was surprised how few were present.

 

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Lido Pool

 

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Sitting area next to the burgers

 

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My favorite place on the ship - Ice Cream Bar -Popcorn Machine for MUTS

 

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Our neighbors in the port. Liberty of the Seas and Grand Princess among others.

 

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Kids Pool

 

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Pizza (next to the burgers) Lido Deck

Edited by C Cruise Dude
add more

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I continued my tour on other decks. It was my chance to visit the Sanctuary because I knew that I would not pay the fee to use the area. I have to say that after seeing the area it was tempting.

 

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Sanctuary

 

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Mini Golf near the Sanctuary

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Well it was time for the life boat drill. We met in the theater and had to bring our life jackets from our cabins. I haven't done that since my first cruise 9 years ago. It was pretty painless. We then had sail away. It was fun watching all the ships in Port Everglades.

 

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We had to put our life jackets on after the demonstration from the crew.

 

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Grand Princess left before we did

 

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So did Liberty of the Seas

 

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These must be the hands that you wave to for the webcam. I had heard of these, now here they are.

 

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We were ready for sail away. I continued to roam the ship to get a feel of the place.

 

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Sail Away Party - Lido

 

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Line Dance

 

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I was pleased at the end of the night to find chocolates on the bed, no towel animals.

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Sunday morning was our first port; Princess Cay. I started out the day with breakfast in Horizon Court. It was crowded as usual so I had breakfast outside near the adult pool.

 

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Aft - Adult Pool area for breakfast

 

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The Princess bag that the lady has on her shoulder was a gift from Princess. My Steward left one on my desk - very nice.

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The first port was Princess Cay. The private island was one of the best that I have been to. Princess used the life boats as tenders. You picked up a ticket and waited for your number to be called leave the ship. The transfer to the island was quick and efficient. Actually, Princess gets kudos from me because they used this disembarkation at every port. You picked up the ticket and prepared any last minutes activities until your number was called. No crowed stairs with people herding to get off the ship. The island was nice for me because they had more pavements, sand is nice but it is hard to walk on. The water was cold when it hit you (it was November) but warm when you submerged. The food area was great with a good variety to choose from including ribs. The eating area was not crowded. The only drawback to the island was the hard sand as you entered the water. You almost needed Crocs on it was so hard. I have experienced this at other private islands and the Cruise Director did warn people before getting off the ship. The shop was another thing. The same items that could be purchased in the ships store, the water proof case with Princess written on it was $3 in the ship’s store and $13 on the island. Other than that, it was a great port.

 

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Boarding a life boat used as tenders

 

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Inside the life boat

 

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Venders on the island

 

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Entertainment on the Island (very good).

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Can't wait for more. I'll be cruising Princess for the first time in April on this same ship and itinerary:D

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The food area was the best that I have seen on private islands. It was very clean, duel lines so shorter waits. They have a good selection of food.

 

 

 

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Grill Princess Cay

 

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Seating area of grill

 

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Another view from the seating area of the grill

 

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The following day was a sea day. There was plenty of activities on the ship. It started for me with our meet and greet (M&G). I can say it was one of the best M &G that I have attended. The gift exchange was really nice. We stayed and talked a little after the meeting in Skywalkers but had to leave because there was another group scheduled in there.

 

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Meet & Greet/Gift Exchange in Skywalkers

 

Other activities on the ship:

 

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Live Band in the Atrium with dance music

 

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Upstairs in a bar there was ballroom dancing with the ship's band

 

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at the same time there was football on the big screen (Movies Under The Stars - MUTS) and a show in the theater.

 

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Flamenco dancers after the band finished

 

 

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Dancing in Skywalkers after 11:00pm with a DJ

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Your write-up and pictures are great.:)

 

I like some of the rest are looking forward to the rest of your review.

 

My friend and I are to do this same itinerary the end of March 2013.

 

You had mentioned (I believe) about getting the egg crate mattress or cover for the bed. I also ordered that through my TA also. I know when I was on Princess before the beds are very HARD.:mad: Some people like this. I LOVE Carnivals beds/and beddings.:) Since Princess is owned by Carnival, they need to "change" their beds.

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Since Princess is owned by Carnival, they need to "change" their beds.

 

They are changing their beds - just do a search on new mattresses or new beds. We had the pillow top mattresses on both our cruises in the last 6 months.

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Thanks for your review. I love reading reviews like yours that have pictures. Also, nice to read what a first time Princess cruiser has to say.

 

Especially enjoying reading it as I'm taking a break between my full day at work and having to leave in an hour and a half for work networking event - yuck. Not my favorite thing. Looking forward to the rest of your reviewl

Edited by MichelleinOC

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Enjoying the review - we're on the CB at the end of January. We booked our pre-cruise night at the Best Western because of POSITIVE reviews on CC -- glad you had good things to say about it!

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So far love your review continue

Sea ya

Eric

 

Tba fall cruise 2013

Caribbean Princess Feb 2013

Carnival Liberty Nov2012

Hal Westerdam March2012

Ruby Princess Nov2010

Sapphire Princess Sep2010

Rccl Adventure Of The Seas April 2010

Carnival Miracle Feb2010

Rccl Oassis of the Seas Feb2010

Rccl Majesty of the Seas Nov2009

Rccl Navigator of Seas Sep2009

Hal Westerdam Nov&Dec2008

Caribbean Princess Nov2007

Sea Princess Nov&Dec 2006

Diamond Princess Apr2005

Rccl Navigator Dec2004

NCL SUN Nov2004

Visit of QM2 Oct2004

Carnival Victory Nov2003

Golden Princess Apr2003

Celebrity Mercury Nov2002

Carnival Elation Nov2001

NCL SKY Nov2000

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Your write-up and pictures are great.:)

 

I like some of the rest are looking forward to the rest of your review.

 

My friend and I are to do this same itinerary the end of March 2013.

 

You had mentioned (I believe) about getting the egg crate mattress or cover for the bed. I also ordered that through my TA also. I know when I was on Princess before the beds are very HARD.:mad: Some people like this. I LOVE Carnivals beds/and beddings.:) Since Princess is owned by Carnival, they need to "change" their beds.

 

Thank you and all posters, happy to post the review. I never mentioned egg crate. The bed was not bad at all and I sleep on a waterbed at home.

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The next day was our second port. A little background, if, I understood the Captain correctly, there was a mechanical problem that caused the ship to travel at a slower speed. The problem was repaired and we started moving at a higher speed. The second problem was weather. It was great outside, sunshine, clear skies and nice temperatures, a little humid at times but nice. The problem was wind slowing the ship. This made for a rough ride. During the night, the drawer in the night stand next to the bed opened and the hangers on the rack were make odd noises. This caused us to be two hours late into Curacao. Most excursions were cancelled so you were on your own after leaving the ship. It worked well for me an a few other passengers. We met a woman outside the port with a minivan, Carla, and for $25 she took us on a two hour tour which ended up closer to three hours (bonus). We traveled the roads and stopped at a distillery, shopping area and a synagogue. We had the option to be dropped across a bay from the location of the port or to be dropped back at the ship. The majority wanted the ship and I had an appointment in the Spa so I also returned.

 

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Approaching Curacao

 

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We had our group and the tour was on.

 

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The first stop was a distillery

 

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History of the family that owned the distillery

 

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Our second stop at a souvenir shop. A view out the back door.

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Shot from the bridge below

 

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One of the stops at a shopping area.

 

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We stopped at the Synagogue but it was closed

 

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Shopping area outside the ship

 

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I made it back in time for my spa appointment for a wonderful massage.

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Aruba: I took a two tank dive at this port. We met in a building outside the ship. The building had venders inside where I purchased a few gifts. The boats for Red Sail Sports met us in the water across from the ship and took us to two dive sites. They ended the tour by stopping at a beach. You had the option of staying at the beach and finding your way back to the ship or take the provided transportation by van to the ship. I returned to the ship, took a shower and returned to an area adjacent to the port. I spent a little time in a casino that paid better than the ship. They accepted US dollars.

 

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Aruba

 

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The crew on the dive boat were very professional. It was one of my best dive experiences.

 

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One of the divers enjoying the 20 minute ride to the first site.

 

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Going down!

 

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Dive Master

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After the dive, we were dropped at a beach with the option to stay and find our own way back to the port or a van to take us back. I was not sure when we had to be back so I chose to take the van.

 

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Traffic was heavy, you might want to take that into consideration if you take an excursion on your own.

 

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Shops near the port

 

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Our neighbor Celebrity Eclipse

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The condition of the ship for the most part was very good. I was surprised when I touched a railing and found it rough, needing refinishing. I overheard passengers express the same experience. I also found it to be very warm inside the ship. I asked passengers that I met if they had sailed on CB before and if the warmth was the norm and they told me no. They also found that it was usually warm. The most comfortable places during those times were my cabin and a night club (Fusion) at the aft of the ship. I also noticed that it was like a sauna in the Horizon Court serving area and very warm in the dinning area of Horizon Court (time of day did not matter except late in the evening after 9:00pm).

 

The layout of the sun decks (where most of the deck chairs are) was different for me. I like to lay in the shade and was able to find a place, on a sea day, without much effort. I say that because most of the chairs are in the sun a good portion of the day. I enjoyed this ship but would not sail her again until after dry dock.

 

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The International Cafe was nice for snack.

 

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Vines had sweets for a price.

 

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Fudge: 6 pieces for $15

 

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I am loving your pictures. For instance the International Cafe sandwich case: you get right up to the subject and take a clear picture where we can see the goods and even read the little signs. This really, really helps!

 

We'll be on the CB exactly one year from now. You can bet I'll be showing my wife your photos. The lemony water in the Spa picture looks downright mouth-watering.

 

Looking forward to more, more, more!

 

Rick

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Rick, thanks and one more of the International Cafe: These items are free. I think that they sell Coffee or some drinks.

 

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Drink preparation International Cafe

 

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I love this room. I think that it's in the spa

 

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My favorite place on the ship. The Promenade deck. I didn't discover how peaceful it was out there until the last day. I spent most of the afternoon there. I was so pleased when a waiter passed by offering coffee and tea.

 

 

 

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A sea day around the pool - Lido

 

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Less pleasant but useful was the self service laundry. $2 per load to wash or dry. Great to save a few dollars.

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I love this room. I think that it's in the spa

 

 

 

 

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Actually, this is the waiting area outside of the Princess Theater.

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I saved this section for last because of a complicated situation that I dealt with concerning my waiter. I will start my comments from embarkation and go on.

 

There is a buffet area (Horizon Court) on the ship in addition to the International Cafe (sandwiches, coffee, deserts) on deck 5 and the main dining rooms (MDR). On embarkation, I headed for Horizon Court. The first thing that I noticed was that it was very hot in the serving area. I found the selection limited compared to all previous cruises. The food that was served was very good. It was very nice to have a service staff that was very willing to provide drinks for you, tea, water, juice in the morning. I was so pleased one morning when the waitress noticed me leaving the serving area with my plate and escorted me to a table. It was, as a rule, difficult to find a table in Horizon Court. I had breakfast on the bar type area near the adult pool my first morning.

 

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Adult pool aft of Horizon Court

 

 

 

The ice cream bar was the best thing on the Lido Deck. They had soft and hard serve. You could purchase shakes for $2.00, small but good. You also had burger and fries in addition to pizza. I did not like the taste of the pizza, tried cheese and pepperoni. The cheese burgers and fries were really good.

 

 

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Ice Cream Bar

 

 

 

I chose traditional dinning and was assigned to the Palm Dinning Room, first sitting at 5:45pm. My experience there was unique of all my cruises. The first night there was two couples and three ladies at the table. The second night I found only a couple (new) at the table. In short the make up of the table changed from night to night. The service was less than desirable because of the personality of my waiter. She was not the model of waiters that I have had on previous cruises (male and female). Waiters are usually very reserve, professional yet engaging. They remember any special drinks that you have each night (tea, water with lemon, etc) and address you by name. I did not experience this on this cruise. The most annoying behavior was the waiter asking me to promise to return to the dinning room on a night when I knew that my table mates would not be there and suggesting to me and the other table mates that she should receive a perfect score on the review. I have never experienced this before. The waiter’s assistants were great. I and other table mates had a problem with ice cream being somewhat melted when it was served and it seemed to me that the scoops were smaller than other cruise lines. I was surprised that I could not substitute items on certain dishes. Example, I have ordered fries as a substitute for a mashed potatoes on other lines, I was told by my waiter that I could not. Overall, the food was good. I did find some meats to be tough. The best was the lobster on formal night and mango sorbet.

 

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Lobster on Formal Night

 

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Mango Sorbet

 

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This was a combination of shrimp,crab and a third fish. It was very good.

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I love this room. I think that it's in the spa

 

 

FYI... I'm pretty sure this is the lower entrance to the Princess Theater...

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