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riverboatgambler

Golden Review 4-17

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This was our 2nd cruise on Princess and first on the Eastern Caribbean route. Previously, we cruised the Grand and Western Caribbean route.

Arrival
We arrived the on the 17th at 1:30 pm and we took the shuttle from the Ft Lauderdale airport. This was a mistake since with the Caribbean Princess sailing on the same day it was a long wait and a cab would have been easier and quicker. The poor bus driver was making his 7th trip of the day (think about the amount of luggage he had to pack for seven loads of people). He looked so exhausted I got off the bus and helped him load the bags, he was very grateful and I got my daily workout.Lesson learned as I believe the taxi would have been cheaper and faster.

Getting on the ship was very quick, no lines and it took all of 5 minutes.

Room
Found our room D210 a mini-suite. We had a caribe balcony the last time out on the Grand. We loved the extra room of the mini-suite, and unlike numerous postings,we found the balcony more than sufficient for two people and did not mind the "openess" of the balcony and did not feel spied upon by people in the floors above.

Cruise Critic get together
Meet our cruise critic group at sail a way at the Oasis bar and had a great time. It was great putting faces to the messages. Only saw one couple from our group the rest of the week, but it is a big ship. In the future I will suggest a 2nd meeting as some either missed the sail a way, or we missed them at the meet.

Ages of passengers
Overall, much younger than our previous cruise and the reason was this was spring break week in the Northeast area around Boston. This explained the high number of young families and Boston Red Sox fans. Overall, we found the children and teens to be well behaved. The only problem we had was almost getting hit by a cannon balling teen in the pool on Monday. The pool was extra crowded since it had been closed all morning and there was a lot of pent up energy. Since the infants in swim diapers has been getting a lot of activity on the board, I did not see anyone putting an infant in swim diapers into the pools.

Weather
Very rough sea days on Saturday and Sunday. Even the crew commented it was rough even for them. Monday am, we went out to the pools and all of the pools had been drained because of the rough seas on Sunday night. The filled the pools back up by 1pm, as the weather had calmed down. Rest of the week the seas were much calmer.

Chair Hogs
Unfortunley, even though signs are posted on every chair, they were ignored and I did not see any of the pool attendats removing items to open up the chairs. On Sunday we arrived at the pool at 8:30 am and all the chairs in prime postions were "reserved" even though they were only about 15 people around the main pool.We did not encounter this problem on our previous Pincess cruise even without the signs. I think because of the overall younger age of the passengers the pool was more popular than our previous cruise. Dont get me wrong we were always able to find a spot, sometimes it just took a while of searching for a chair without one flip flop on it.

Formal Nights
I wear a tux, and DW lives to dress up...with business casual, when do you get a chance? I found 25% of men in tuxes, 65% in suits, and the other 10% either in ties only or casual. Most of the women were in formal attire. Did see one group casaul in the dining room and was suprised they were seated. This was not the case on the Grand on our previous cruise as I saw people turned away on formal nights. People not dressed up can not possibly ruin our good time.

Casino
As by my screen name you can tell I like to gamble. Here is an in depth review of the casino. Attention Chris of CruisingisLife, you will find this extremely amusing, the dealers are now wearing blue oxford shirts with Ocean Players Club embroided on the right breast. When I questioned what the Ocean Players Club only one dealer could give me the following answer...it is Carnival's deal and it is a rating system for gamblers but that's all he knew right now.

Craps, double odds $5 Minimum. The craps dealers had quit and the other dealers tried but it was a slow game since they were inexperienced. But they were all great kids and it was fun working together. Because they were short staffed they only opened the table at night after 9pm.

Blackjack, 8 decks, dealer stands on soft 17, split up to 4 times (except aces, one card to each split ace only). All in all not bad odds. Had the wheel of fortune side bet, which is a bad bet. I could always find a $5 minimum table.

Fun blackjack, 8 decks with queens removed. Better to play regular blackjack as the odds are better for the player.

Face up blackjack, offered on one night. Same as double exposure blackjack in US casinos. Once again odds are better playing regular blackjack.

Three card poker, normally most casinos I play at offer the flush payout at 4 to 1, on the ship the payout is 3 to 1. This is a major difference and really adds to the house's advantage.

Caribbean Stud Poker. Very low jackpot of $12000 makes this game not worth playing. People who play are afraid not to drop the dollar to be eligible for the jackpot, but the odds of getting a royal flush and getting the jackpot are 650,000 to 1.

Let it Ride, another game with odds too much in favor of the house especially if you play the bet a buck. Once again people are afraid not to make this bet but the bet gives a huge advantage to the house.

Video Poker, does not have the higher payouts you look for in video poker but not a bad play.

Slots, I do not play the slots but I did see some people hit a few jackpots. I just feel that with no casino competition in the middle of the ocean, they probably have the machines set too much in their favor.

Overall, I enjoyed the casino very much as the dealers were all very nice and wanted to see you win. If you play, please realize these dealers count on your tips, make a bet for them and let the good karma roll.

Ports of Call
St Maarten, did the America's Cup excursion. If you have any interest in sailing or even if you dont you should do this excursion. This was great and well worth the $89 cost. Spent the rest of the day shopping, I have never seen so many jewelry shops.

St Thomas, went scuba diving for the first time at Coki beach with cokidive.com. Could have booked the same thing with Princess but it was less expensive to do this on my own.Can not say enough good things about these guys, they gave great instructions and before you knew it you were scuba diving.If you have ever thought about scuba diving, this is the place.

Wife likes to snorkel but did not want to scuba dive, so this beach was perfect as she was able to snorkel while I scuba dived.

After the snorkeling and scuba diving we rented a jet ski for 30 minutes and had a great time.

Later we went down town to go shopping, and I though St Maarten had a lot of jewelry shops until I saw St Thomas. Did find what we were looking for as the wife and I try to buy art from local artists if possible. We found the Jonna White Gallery on 30 Main St. She is a very talented artist and we bought a nice sized signed framed print of a St Thomas scene for $330 with free delivery to the US. While the art auctions on the ship are fun and you can get some good buys if you know your stuff, we prefer art that has ties to the places where we vacation.

Cruise Director
Graham Seymour was our cruise director and he was hilarous and extremely talented(also sings with the band on island night at the aft of the boat). If you like sarcastic off the cuff humor this is your guy. I would choose another cruise soley based if he was going to be the cruise director.

Food
We found the food to be great. How they do such a great job considering the amount of the people they have to feed each day is amazing. I know some people complain, but how can you compare upscale restaurants that feed less than 100 people at a time to cruise ship dining rooms feeding 1000's at a time.

We did personal choice because we never know when we want to eat. Had to wait some times, never a bother for us as we would explore the ship until our buzzer rang.

Shows
Went to the a production show...Lights Camera Action. Great show, Uber Rossi is extremely talented. Saw great comedians, had a blast at the improv show, got pulled up on stage and had some really good laughs. Great Magician one night. I have read comments on the entertainment as so so or some old thing, and once again I do not know what they are expecting, but we found the entertainment to be top notch.

Overall
A great vacation. Heard some complaints from other passengers on the layout of the ship. Not a problem for us since we learned the layout on our previous cruise. In thinking back to our first cruise the layout did confuse me at times, but rather than being annoyed, I felt challenged to learn my way around the ship.

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Thanks for the hard work on the review.

[B] Life is at it's best when your address floats [/B]
[B]<FONT color=red>Alaska</FONT>[/B]
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[B]<FONT color=red>Western Carribean</FONT>[/B]
Century 9/96

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I'm so glad you mentioned Uber Rossi. He is a person that everyone should see if they go on a cruise. I was lucky enough to get to speak with him briefly on our trip and he is just amazing.
[img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]
Glad you had a wonderful time!

*Alicia*

"This drink tastes like foot. I sucked a girl's toe once...no, not all five- just the big toe...and that's what this tastes like." -Graham, in reference to the Tequila Sunrise

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