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CB Eastern Carribean 5 to 12 Nov 2006, observations


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Cruise Review – Caribbean Princess – Eastern Caribbean (Port Everglades to St. Martin to St. Thomas to Princess Cay to Port Everglades) 5 to 12 November 2006 cruise experience.

This is my first review (third cruise, second on the CB) so please bear with me.

Overall, I found Princess once again provided both and experience and atmosphere that provided both relaxation and fun to me and my entire family on the cruise. And I will cruise again with Princess, hopefully in the next year or so to either Alaska or the Mexican Riviera for a change of pace.

What I am commenting here on are personal observations only, and are not meant to be critical to any extent, but rather to point out what I found were either issues or concerns.

- Traveling with me – My wife and 16-year old son in Dolphin mini-suite D202, and my parents (early 50th wedding anniversary present) in Rivera balcony R238.

Embarkation took a little long (not sure why). Arrived at the port around 11:30AM on the 5th. There were about 400 or so people already in line (outside for some reason, though I thought that Princess was giving out group numbers). Line didn’t proceed inside until about 12:50 or so in groups of 100 people at a time. Once inside, checking in and boarding the ship took about 20 to 30 minutes for most people. We flew in the day before and stayed at the Marriot Harbor. As far as this hotel is concerned, I won’t stay there again, it’s a beautiful hotel, but no shuttle service either from the airport or to the port, no breakfast, and the food in the nearby area leaves a lot to be desired. On top of this the way the hotel is built over a parking garage makes getting around “the resort, and I use these words very kindly” extremely difficult. Like I said a good hotel but not worth $250+ for a night’s stay.

As always arriving on the ship immediately sets the tone for me for the trip. And as before, the ship was clean, the staff friendly, and the music soft.

My family and I ate the majority of our meals either at the Horizon or Caribe buffets. That’s just the way we are, for me getting out of shorts and sandals to eat dinner interferes with my quiet time. We did go to the second formal night on Friday, and I found the food to be well prepared, but doing anytime dining does seem to lead to rather distracted waiters. This is not a critical against the level of service, having put myself through school as a waiter the conditions of trying to provide 4 or 5 star service under “anytime dining” conditions would be almost impossible. So, my advice, if you want the “old-time” level of service, is either do formal dining or reserved anytime dining.

The quality of the coffee and ice tea has improved since my last time on-board (Nov 2004), I was happy to see the ice machines in working condition, and only once had to resort to the scoop the ice from bucket using a ladle once during the week. I was almost happy to see that there where lemon slices available for ice tea in the say area. However, I wish Princess would slice the lemons in wedges rather then disks since I like to squeeze a few drops of lemon juice in my ice tea, rather then just dunking lemon disks.

What can I say about the buffet?

- Didn’t seem to have as many problems with cold things being cold and hot things being hot

- There, as it appears to me, a very notable difference in both the quality and number of dishes available in the buffet from two years ago. I would estimate that Princess is probably spending 25 to 50 percent less per dish/passenger/entry then they did during my last cruise. Breads were always freshly baked, desserts were okay (if a little bland, most of they lacked any significant flavor, almost as if all desserts are being created for people on low-sugar diets). But, again this is the buffet, not great, but okay. Pizza and other items available in the pool areas are also good, but nothing to write home about.

- Buffet areas are rather crowded between 12 and 1PM and 5 and 6:30PM, so I either went earlier or later. Also rather crowded on the first and last day of the cruise, but that is to be expected.

- Never saw ice cream available in the Horizon, but only checked between 2 and 3PM once or twice.

- Still think that princess could move a few things around and work out a better traffic management/flow pattern in the buffet areas, it would also help if they put up signs that identified specific buffet tables for people (I.E. “Desserts” “Breads” “Salads”) sometimes you spent time wandering around in the buffet area looking for things. Also, it would probably help things some if they placed butter in the bread area, I kept having to go back into the main buffet area looking for butter, after getting a piece of bread or a roll

- Note to first-time cruises, if there is no tables in the immediate buffet area keep walking aft, a lot of people don’t realize that there are 3 or 4 seating areas for the buffets so most times there are tables open in the aft portion of the buffet area.

On a side note, my favorite place on the ship was aft in the Outrigger bar area, quiet, good service and the Sun allowed for good quiet reading, while still close to the bar for beer (lol)


- Don’t go on the St. Martin Sea and See excursion, even though the ride in the “glass bottom boat/desk” is okay, the tour is a waste of time and money.

- Really enjoyed the Best of St. Thomas tour. The 2 hours we spent on the beach at Megan’s bay was one of the highlights of the cruise, and the tour of Blackbeard’s Castle was really good (except for the rather shuddering/vibrating nature of the circular stairs you take to get to the top of the castle, there’s an accident waiting to happen). This tour is well worth the money, and I have only good comments.

- Had a great deal of fun at Princess Cay, rented snorkel gear (had rented cabana’s) and saw a lot of fish right off the beach (on a side note, I have two very large aquariums as my hobby at home, so I’m was very excited to see all the fish, so of wish would cost me $1000 or more to purchase here in Virginia to put in my tank). Couldn’t believe that with all the signs posted about not touching corals or reefs still saw quite a number of idiots doing just that. (Note: rather then snorkel, it appears that people that rented the floats with the built-in viewing window also were having a good time. Also, be sure to put a lot of UV protection on your back and the back of your legs, I was in the water for about 2 hours with no protection and didn’t have a good nights sleep that evening)

Note: Now the only issue I have with St. Thomas is the extremely aggressive and rude behavior of the “association drivers”, particularly those who direct people to tour buses and cabs in the new port area (not even going to go into how bad the area is with the lack of stores (area is still under construction). The association personnel were extremely rude to passengers when they were standing around waiting for tours. I almost punched one of the B$$$$$$ out when he literally pushed my mother away from a shaded area while we were waiting for the rest of our tour group. The association is using very aggressive tactics to try to funnel people on to areas where “their” cabs are. By the way it would help if there were some benches in the area. Most rude attitudes I came across during the cruise, and put me in a very foul mood for the morning.

On a side note – What would be an acceptable tip for your tour driver? Dollar a person?


As always very friendly, but also very busy. People just don’t seem to take into consideration that anybody can be having a bad day, or that the staff is not there to take care of only you.

I’m really seeing Carnival influence on sales practices starting to rear its ugly head on Princess (my first cruise was on Carnival, loathed it, felt like I was on a seven-day infomercial). Princess really made some hard sell presentations to passengers to only go to “Princess” approved shops. Scare tactics were very evident, and being used constantly, to try and keep anybody from going to non-princess shops. (Princess! Give us a break! I’ll shop where I want to shop.) I also didn’t appreciate in the least the advertisements in the daily patter about “come to this briefing and receive a bracelet” and then go, have Princess try to brainwash you to only shop on “these” stores, and then find out that you had to go to a certain store on the island to get the bracelet. Princess used this tactic twice to get people to go to the shopping briefing (for shame Princess). I hope this is toned down, but I worry that it will only get worse.

My family and I, especially my Mother, had a wonderful time running around the shopping areas going to all the different stores and getting the free stuff that you got for visiting the store (CD’s, prints, earrings, etc). All low-cost stuff, but fun for me. And, I can also honestly say that you will pay 50 percent or less for jewelry items then in the United States if you are careful, have done your homework, and are prepared to shop around a little bit. However, for people looking for jewelry, price stuff ahead of time and plan financially accordingly. I only say this because I was looking for a tennis bracelet for my wife, but the one I fell in love with was way out of my price range (that’s okay though because I was able to get a dark opal bracelet for her).

Well, this is rather long, but I am open to respond to anyone’s questions.

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Pretty decent comments overall, and good observations. Did you find Cafe Caribe area any different compared to previous experiences?


I agree that the port/shopping lectures are a bait-and-switch. I've only gone to one of those, learned my lesson, and ignored what they had to say. The "shopping expert" is apparently a shill for the approved stores. If anything, I avoid their list of shops entirely and try to find locally-based merchants when possible.

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The quality of the food in the Cafe Caribe is at the same level as Horizon. As far as I could tell they served the same things as in the Horizon, you just had the option of a smaller plate and eating at a table with silverware and a tablecloth on it (as well as being able to order drinks, however the one time I ordered a glass of wine it took 20 minutes to show up, so kind of defeated the purpose).

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We were on the Crown and felt the buffet set up was also not organized - toaster in the middle of the two hot food spots, ketchup,jelly and condiments where the food was rather than off somewhere by themselves.


If Princess would move those things to one spot near the water and tea, it would allow people to get their food and then go an season it instead of having to work their way back into the crowd trying to get food.

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In answer to the cabin question, my parents found it quiet, no noise issue of any kind. The only issue they had (and the rest of the ship had) was the 12 foot waves the first two days of the cruise.

In answer to the immigration question, disembarkation at St. Thomas wasn't that big of a deal. Really doesn't delay anything. However, you do a bit of walking up and down stairs, and back and forth on the ship to pass through the line and then off the ship, so a word of warning to those who have an issue with walking. On a side note, the rather casual way passports were reviewed by those doing the processing on the ship while in St. Thomas leads me to wonder if they are looking for certain people (or names) rather then a true border checkpoint. When we walking into the area that passport control was in ship's company had what appeared to be a master list of all the passengers spread out on couple of folding tables. Only thing I noted there was that about 3 or 4 names were highlighted in red. I have to wonder if customs is flagging passengers or flagging passenger names.

Note: Tender disembarkation is handled at Princess Cay by being staged from the Princess theater. We arrived about 08:30, and groups were being sent to the tenders by about 10 to 9. So, we were on the beach by 09:15. I would recommend that to get to the beach early, arrive at the theater at least 20 to 30 minutes before tendering begins, and be sure to sit as far up front as possible (groups are selected beginning with the front rows).

Also, if you do go to any of the shopping/brainwash briefings, stuff like t-shirts and sandals are tossed primarily into the front rows only of the theater.

I took about 1 dozen pictures of art objects sold at the on-going scam art auctions on-board. Noted the price paid for the items, and went yesterday to a friend of mine who runs an art auction house here in Washington D.C. He showed me catalog prices that indicate that people are paying 4 to 5 times the value of items being auctioned off. A word to the wise, don’t buy art on-board!

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we went with another cruise line that week....When I read what happened to you the same week and compared it to our experience...believe everything about Princess far exceeds what we had to endure.


I like the shopping expert...she pointed us in the direction of AH Risse (sp?) in st thomas, and they have been wonderful to us....when I walked in this last week the Manager remembered by wife and my name which blew me away considering I didn't remember his...he even asked how my parents were...of course last time they bought 20 liters......

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