by Ed Fait
June 10, 2007
My wife and I along with two grown sons sailed on the Caribbean Princess on June 10-17, 2007. Let me begin by saying that this is our second cruise experience. Our first cruise was ten years ago on Carnival Cruise Lines. My wife and I were very pleased that we booked a balcony room. We thoroughly enjoyed having a balcony, and we were glad that we were on the Aloha Deck as we had a roof and no one looking down on us.
My sons stayed across the hall in an interior room which was obviously much cheaper. They didn't seem to mind it because they could come to our room whenever they wanted to. The showers and the toilet were both improvements over our previous cruise. The rooms was plenty big enough for us, and our cabin steward was excellent.
We were quite surprised at the number of swimming pools and hot tubs, and were surprised that the pools had fresh water in them instead of salt water like our last cruise.
We ate at Sabatini's and found it to be a five star experience and well worth the $20 fee. The evening entertainment in the Princess Theater was very good, especially the comedians. We had asked for traditional dining and were too late to get it. The anytime dining worked okay for us though. We especially liked being able to sit as a family without someone else at our table. The food was always good, and we really liked all the seafood that was available throughout the week. We really appreciated the generous onboard credit we were given when we booked our cruise.
However, there were some things about our cruise we were not happy about. When we booked our flight we included air transportation. On the trip to Ft. Lauderdale we flew on Delta Air. Our seats were not good. On the first flight we had the last two seats on each side of the plane. This was an unpleasant experience for all four of us, especially for my son who had to face the continual opening and closing bathroom door. The transfer flight to Ft. Lauderdale was only slightly better as we were a few seats up from the very back. Interestingly, our return flights seats were very good as we were near the front of coach section. Could it be because we changed the original flight plans that Princess made for us (at a cost of $90 per person)?
When we got to Ft. Lauderdale Airport we were not happy with the transfer service. We had to wait a long time to move out to the loading area. Then we had to go outside and stand in the hot sun for quite a while and wait for our bus. We noticed the lady from Princess who had taken us out stood across the street in the shade. Carnival took us outside very quickly to a waiting bus.
The check in at the ship seemed very slow to us. Why did we complete information ahead of the cruise online only to have confusion over credit cards? We didn't get on the ship until 4:00 PM (our day had begun at 5:00 AM). It would have been nice to have had a little more afternoon time on the ship. It took over two hours to get our bags to our cabin. Carnival was about a half hour.
It seemed to us throughout our entire cruise there was a tremendous effort to push alcoholic drinks. We don't drink much and found the constant questioning, “Do you want a drink?” to be annoying. The first night seafood buffet which was recommended by staff was a disappointment, as the lobster claws and crab legs were cold. We would have preferred warm. We also thought that the ice cream on the deck should have been free.
We would also suggest that a laundry room be put at both ends of the hallway, as we had to walk a very long distance to iron clothes. We found the staff in the dining room to be efficient, but not overly friendly.
Perhaps this is because their tip is automatically charged to your account, and the fact that we had a different waiter at every meal. We have no problem with the dining room dress codes. However, at every dinner meal there were people not following the dress code. This includes the two formal nights. If you are going to have a dress code enforce it. If you are not going to enforce the dress code then don't have it. My wife was disappointed that there was a charge for cappuccinos. We had no such charge on Carnival. Lastly, my wife was very disappointed with the lack of aerobics classes in the gym. Only one was offered for the entire week. Carnival had a class daily. Also, there a charge for other classes like pilates and spinning?
Here are my comments on our four stops:
Princess Cays- Princess Cays was a beautiful island and we had a thoroughly enjoyable day. It was very nice that Princess provided cold, fresh water for everyone to drink. They served a nice lunch on the island. This was truly a day at the beach!
Ocho Rios, Jamaica- We went to Dunn's River Falls in the morning at it was very nice. I would say though that the falls is harder to climb that the excursions make it out to be. I would not recommend it to any with any physical ailments. That said, we were not impressed with Ochio Rios. When you walk the streets to shop you are approached every fifty feet by a drug dealer or begger. We did not like this at all.
Grand Caymen Islands- We had planned on going to Seven Mile Beach but it rained all day so we didn't go. The rain kind of ruined our shopping too. We went back to the ship early.
Cozumel, Mexico- We went to an adventure park for rock climbing, zipline, and snorkeling. It was fun. The shopping here was very nice. My wife got some good deals on jewelry. You can bargain prices at most of the stores. Interestingly, many of the stores offer you a beer or a shot of tequila. I do not recommend any drinking. We saw several people being helped to get back on the ship.