CruisinFinsUp Posted November 8, 2006 #1 Share Posted November 8, 2006 Thanks to everyone for all their advice and reviews. I learned a lot before we went and it helped make my cruise better so here are my comments and observations for what they are worth – hope they help someone else!!! Overall we had a great time!!! :D Flew in Saturday early evening on our own booked direct flights – there were 5 of us so we took Princess transfers (yes, against everyone here’s advice – and they were right!!:rolleyes: ) to the Marriott north – we booked hotel thru Princess because of the FLL boat show and nothing was available when we booked our cruise…. Bus driver took a wrong turn on the way to the Marriott Renaissance, then took over ½ hour to unload bags for those folks in the dark, then we finally got to our hotel much later. It would have been faster to wait for a van type taxi even on Boat Show weekend!! Hotel was fine, got in late so we just grabbed dinner and went to bed. Next am we took van type taxi to the ship instead of our transfers (Princess bus would have left only at 1:30) – we left around 10:45 am, got to the pier before 11:15 or so, walked inside, got our numbered card and waited inside comfortably, although standing room only. Lines were short, but we got a checkin attendant that was hopelessly useless. She did not know how to work her computer, was constantly asking for help from the attendant next to her who was busy trying to check in others, she could barely read her computer screen (maybe forgot her glasses???) and could not read my child’s passport without asking me for help. We had filled in everything online so we were “express”, and she didn’t have to enter anything really, but the next line cleared 4 families in the time we were there. Otherwise, we walked on the ship, and went to our cabin – it was ready and fine. We had the afternoon to explore and enjoy the ship. The lunch buffet was lovely, and we were having a nice meal at 1:30, just when our Princess transfers bus would have been leaving the Marriott north had we taken it!!! Muster was quick and fine. Sailaway was fun. We went up to 17 aft so we didn’t see the “party” but we enjoyed the view!! Cabin steward “Josel” was fine, nothing special but no problems. He did make sure we had lots of Lotus Spa bottles and cardboard containers of shampoo, conditioner & lotion so we never ran out. Warning : the spa does not sell these products so enjoy while you are on board. Bedding was the upgraded linens & duvet (minisuite), bed was firm which we like, towels were plush, never saw a “pillow menu”, and forgot to ask for egg crate for pullout, but my 4 year old was fine, 6 yr old slept in the bunk, we did receive one glass of embarkation champagne without prompting, and fruit was delivered upon filling in the request form ok. We usually had fresh ice, but not always. Fridge worked great. We did not ask for robes. I had to ask for the cabin balloon’s for my son’s birthday, but after that on 3 nights he received his dining room cake voucher (we only used one!!) Balcony had 2 smaller chairs metal frame & mesh, two bigger white chairs with cushions, and one round table. All comfortable. We could not get the chairs to stack, so it was a bit crowded at times but very nice. We prefer the covered balconies that the AD’s on Emerald deck 8 have. The kids’ pool is aft, the kids playcentre is aft, the Horizon court is aft, and deck 7 promenade which is the only deck you can walk the whole length of the ship is only one deck away. It’s a perfect location for us. Food: We are seafood lovers, so we were very very happy. With the kids, we prefer the buffet, - we did go to the dining room one night because the buffet selection was not as much to our taste as usual. That night the dining room (Coral at 5:30 – we made a reservation and had no problems) service was great, the food was excellent, they brought my just on Sunday 29th turned 4 year old a birthday cake - about 5 inches diameter – cake and crème layers covered in chocolate DELICIOUS, sang for him, took very good care of the kids, brought our wine, refilled water, etc etc. Otherwise we ate at the buffets – three nights had seafood – first night cold, and two others were hot. Excellent. Some of the claws were not cut thru all the way, but we just took another. Crab’s legs were yummy. (RCI Jewel this past spring had barely any seafood at all, and certainly no lobster or crab on the buffet). Salads excellent – lots of dressing choices, Beef was excellent said hubby, one night there was even a very good tender chicken cutlet that was more tender than any chicken I’d ever had – amazing for buffet food. Bavarian night was WONDERFUL – we really liked and enjoyed it!! We had no problem finding good food to our taste every day all day. By the end of the week, we wanted to eat more but were so full we couldn’t!! Fruit was abundant on the buffet – strawberries, pineapple, mango, watermelon, cantelope, honeydew, bananas, apples, and papaya were rotated. (RCI Jewel in April only honeydew, watermelon & cantelope only ). Overall as compared to RCI Jewel the CB buffet had more variety and more selection every day all day. Lunch was served at the buffet pretty much all afternoon, whereas RCI is more 12-2. (The RCI Jewel seemed to have the same stuff every night and lunch was barely worth the bother – burgers, dogs and pizza every day, plus some other things – clearly RCI is more dining room based, and the buffet is more because they have to, not as a true alternative to the dining room.) Pizza by the pool was very very good. Breakfast omelets always available on the buffet. We were always able to ask one of the Horizon Court / Café Caribe attendants for milk or apple juice or hot milk for the kids anytime of day, and it was brought to our table no problem. At the bars, (if we were at the pool) they charged us for juice, but when sitting at a table in Horizon court it was “free”. Hubby & I each had the “coke sticker” and we never had any trouble from anyone anywhere ordering a coke with limes. (CB had lime at the bars and even on the buffet sometimes - RCI Jewel did not have any lime anywhere) Some bar staff were sticky about “one at a time per sticker” so we had to have both cards to order us both drinks, but that is fine. Beer was $3.50 per bottle, wine was $7.50 per glass, we thought that other drinks were reasonable and were poured generously. Formal nites: There were two. Attire varied. We brought our formal clothes but decided not to dress fully, instead took the kids to their kids dinner buffet, and ate at the buffet ourselves dressed smart casual (I put on my good blouse with casual pants & shoes) but saw others eating there in shorts. Later walking around the ship we observed attire from black tie to shorts and everything in between. The kids buffet is a section of the Horizon court “closed to the public” where they have the kids seated and they make them hot dogs, burgers, pizza mac & cheese, jello, etc for dinner – happens at 7:00 pm on both formal nights. Noone else is sitting in that area, so they can keep a pretty good eye on the kids, and after they just walk them up one flight to the kids’ centres upstairs. Most afternoons they brought the kids down to Horizon Court for ice cream, and on the last sea day they have a birthday cake for any kids whose birthday is during the cruise. They even gave him a small birthday present (a board game)!!! I thought that it was a very nice touch - they do this every week for any kids that have a Birthday. The ice cream is scooped, there are lots of toppings, its “free”. One side of horizon court is open for late lunch, and the other is “closed” – there are signs outside the door on the pool side and in the elevator lobby too saying “this side closed”– so they are hoping you don’t walk thru -- but actually that is the side that they have ice cream from 3:30 to 4:30 only every afternoon. It was yummy. I went once to afternoon tea, which was very nice. We never made it to Sabitini's or Sterling Steakhouse. Coffee – I’ll add my 2cents to the coffee debate – for us it was hit and miss. We like our coffee strong. Usually the morning buffet coffee was weak at all stations, and the mid afternoon buffet coffee was good and strong. We went to the lobby bar for “brewed coffee” one am, and purchased very weak horrible tasting brewed coffee. Not enough coffee used!!! One day I purchased a hot café mocha there – made with the espresso machine – it was only $2 and very good. They did not sell the coffee card this trip because there are only 2 coffee machines onboard – one at the lobby bar and one at one of the midship deck 15 bars, and the deck 15 one was out of order. I thought that was very good of them to not sell something that they felt they could not service properly. We spent most time at the Pirate’s View area & Kids Splash pool up on deck 17 aft. Perfect. Kids could splash, use the small slide, use the deep pool and hot tub (not marked for adults only). It was not busy there at all. The bar was convenient!! There were always deck chairs available, no chair hogs that I could see, and it was quiet and enjoyable. MUTS did NOT have the headphones yet. Both main pools were busy and noisy. By the end of the week the main pools were looking cloudy and needed draining from the heavy swimmers load although they did smell appropriately of chlorine so I’m sure it was just the swim load clouding the water, but the pools up on 17 were crystal clear all week. We observed deck staff testing the water chemicals daily. The trip: Left Sunday at 5. Captain moved out of port and kicked it up to high speed and off we went!! Monday was sea day was overcast & windy – Gale Force 5 winds per the “Log of the Cruise”. Tuesday sea day was perfect, hot and sunny. Lots of pool time!! Wednesday St. Maartin – weather perfect - we did the Butterfly Farm & Orient Beach excursion. Went to Boo Boo Jam - a bar/restaurant at the far north end of Orient Beach, chairs free, umbrella $5, 3 little booths selling mostly coverups, tshirts and bags. All Princess & RCI excursion go there but we were the only group that day – wonderful beach excursion and the kids love the butterflies. Thursday St. Thomas Weather perfect again. We docked at Crown Bay. Immigration required – We are Canadian, and went to the “non-US” immigration line. This was an experience. The Immigration Lady tried to ask my 6 yr old some questions – “when is daddy’s birthday?” – she couldn’t recall (she’s SIX!!) so she asked “what holiday do you celebrate near daddy’s birthday? With fireworks??” She hinted quietly about July 4th. My hubby politely told her that we Canadians don’t celebrate July 4th Independence Day. She looked very surprised. We told her we do have July 1st Canada Day, but we don’t always do fireworks because they are too noisy for the little kids. Then she tried to get my 6 year old to sign her unsigned passport. I had to politely insist that she not because Canadians under 12 don’t sign, and it even says on the info page “signature not required”. I could not believe that the immigration rep did not know this. Has she never seen a Canadian child’s passport before???? My 6 year old was a little flustered at all the attention and we were a little shocked at this lady’s lack of knowledge!!! :confused: At the pier there were lots of open air taxi trucks into town for $4 at Crown Bay - there are signs on the dock listing taxi prices, and the driver did drive towards town and stop part way along to confirm where we wanted drop off and to collect our fares, then he continued into town to drop us at the taxi parking area. Some locals told us that the rent is very very high at Crown Bay, so noone wants to open up because its just not worth it. We shopped in the am in town, and took the Megan’s bay excursion in the pm. Very nice. But we had a bit of time left in port after our excursion and I missed being able to walk and browse and shop at Havensight during this time. I did not feel that there was enough time to go into town comfortably (without worrying about time). Thursday at Sea – weather perfect . Friday – Princess Cays – overcast, windy, Force 9 Strong Gale so we skipped Princess Cays and just sailed on. Later in the day the seas settled down but it was still overcast and a bit chillier out so we did not swim. This meant 2 not so great weather days on a 7 day cruise. We really would have liked an indoor pool for days like these – there are “poor weather” days even in the caribbean, and a solarium would be enjoyed on those days. For that reason alone, we will think twice about sailing CB again. For us, especially with the kids, we go for the pools and sun, not the shows or the casino, so it matters more to us that we can enjoy the pools no matter the weather than to some others perhaps. Kids LOVED the kids’ centre. They didn’t want to leave. (age 4 & 6) There were apparently about 200 kids under 18 on board, but we didn’t really see most of them, except on Halloween. Sometimes we say yellow shirted youth security, but not very often. There was a “McDonald’s Playland” type climbing thing in the kids’ centre that my kids really loved. They did get outside time too – there is a covered outside deck (blocked in with gates & netting) where they have trikes and outdoor running around time. I did notice that there was quite a bit of movie time but they also played board games, did crafts, and played video games. A small snack was available to the kids. Sea day hours were 9am -12, 2-5pm, 7-10pm. You did not have to “sign up” for dinner nights in advance. You did have to sign up by about 8pm for that nights late night 10-1am paid babysitting. Kids must be 3 and potty trained to be left in the club. Otherwise one parent can stay with a little one in the kids club to use the toys. No in cabin sitting on Princess. On Halloween, they took the kids on a LONG walk around the ship, stopping to get candy at various places. (they made loot boxes in class) It got a little disorganized as “the public” kept mixing into the line, and they were taken down the big stairs in the atrium, but overall it all ended ok and the kids had a blast. I haven’t seen so far that the onboard video crew took any video of the parade, which would be very disappointing cause there was a lot of video of the adults dressup party. I haven’t watched the whole DVD yet. (they really hard sell it at the photo shop) One night there was an hour of “family disco” dance night in the skywalker’s lounge that the kids loved – but was very loud and some of the 3 year olds seemed upset by the volume but had to stay because there weren't enough staff to take them someplace else. Hubby went for a massage at the spa. He asked for a “normal massage”. They told him all they had was the seaweed wrap with massage. So he bought that and got a less than satisfactory massage, and lots of seaweed. After, the attendant tried to sell him $350 USD of seaweed to use at home – No thanks worked just fine :rolleyes: . When he got back I told him that I was quite sure that I had seen on princess.com that there were some “deep tissue massage” etc options available, but he said that they did not tell him about any of those – I think he got scammed. Make sure you know what you want going in and insist on that and nothing else. Later, I went to ask to purchase the lotion provided in the rooms as a gift to my mother (I told them I want to buy a gift), and they said “not available but we have other lotions” but they did not offer to show me any of them and let me walk away without a purchase :eek: (I didn’t bother to push it since they didn’t care) – so I’m not sure what the deal is at the spa – some try the hard sell, others don’t care. I had the same experience in the perfume shop – I asked about a lotion recommendation, and she pointed vaguely at something, but was too busy chatting with her coworkers to show me or sell me anything so I walked out of there too. We did not attend the shows but my fatherinlaw said he enjoyed the ones he went to. We walked past the Bert Stratton show a few times and not sure if its him or the microphone equipment, but whenever he hit a certain note his voice would grate horribly all thru the centre atrium. We heard the same songs each night. Personally, I’m not into camp like singalongs, but he did seem to have a crowd of maybe 100 around him each show, so I guess he does appeal to some. Something for Everyone!! Disembarkation was smooth and fine. Our flight was at 2, so we were in no hurry at all. Breakfast buffet was open til 9, so we lingered, and then were asked to leave so that they could sanitize the Horizon Court – that was nice to hear. So we moved onward, and our colour (one of the last) was called just after 10. Princess transfers to FLL airport were easy and comfortable. Although if I were in a rush, I’d take a taxi instead. Overall, a great trip, very nice ship, and a wonderful time had by all!!! Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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