Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess Eastern Caribbean April 1, 2007
This was my 5th cruise in as many years with all cruises being on different lines - Disney, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Costa and now Princess. This cruise fell well below expectations in most areas and I can't foresee hopping on another Princess Cruise anytime soon. With that said, we still had an enjoyable time, just not as enjoyable as some of the other cruises that we have taken.
Overall, I rate the food mediocre. We choose "Anytime" dining and the food served at dinner in the dining room was significantly better than that served at the buffet or at the restaurants during breakfast & lunch.
Much of the food was extremely bland. At the buffet (both the Horizon Court and Caribe Café), many of the entrees had little taste, with the exception of the beef dishes. Breads ranged from good (multigrain rolls) to poor (croissants - hard and pre-packaged). Desserts uniformly looked great and just as uniformly were tasteless. The exceptions being the cheesecake, oatmeal cookies and the trifles. The pizza served poolside was okay (good crust, so-so sauce) and there were/are always burgers, hot dogs and fries which were consistently okay.
Couple of real irritants - soft serve ice cream is available only at the Scoops ice cream stand for an additional charge ($1.50 and consistently long lines). No complementary juice or lemonade was available during lunch or dinner, unless, again, you wanted to pay additional for it.
Overall food Rating: CKids Facilities
One of the reasons we have gone on 5 cruises in the last 5 years has been to insure that my 9 year old daughter has a lot to do and an opportunity to make new friends. She has always loved the various kids' clubs on all of the cruise lines and looked forward to this one.
We cruised during our spring break week (April 1-8th) and expected a lot of children onboard, which proved true. Unfortunately, the cruise appeared to be significantly understaffed for the number of kids (the number of kids has never surprised the other cruise lines during the previous years' cruises), and the kids' clubs came off as quite disorganized.
The first evening orientation meeting was not only late in starting, but severely skewed to addressing the teens - ironic given that almost the entire audience of kids and adults had pre-teens with them! We were specifically told that the kids' club area would be open following the orientation only to find that only the teen's area was open, and yes, I specifically asked one of the counselors whether it was open for my 9 year old. So we went to the Kids' club area, along with a bunch of other pre-teens and parents only to find the entire area dark, locked and inaccessible. No counselor in sight.
The next morning began poorly with the Kids' club opening a full 10 minutes late. Not a huge deal in the scheme of things, but given my daughter's anticipation and the fact that it took another 20+ minutes to actually get checked into the club, it was irritating. The whole thing seemly poorly run and organized.
Bottom line is that my daughter went back to the Kids' Club the following morning and that was it for the cruise. In her words, and I quote, "they don't have much to do there". Again, I attribute this to the poor counselor/kid ratio and with half the kids, it may have been a completely different experience, but my daughter and I were severely disappointed with the club.
Overall Kids' Club Rating: DCabin
We had a balcony cabin, which was very nice and keep clean and tidy by Alberto, our cabin steward. He was quietly efficient, which was perfect. Like a good waiter, he was around when we needed him and invisible when we didn't.
We had a continental breakfast delivered to the room several mornings. It was always delivered during the requested times.
Overall Cabin Rating: AMiscellanea
A couple of notes to let people know about the other aspects of the cruise. First, I go on cruises to relax and unwind. To me, that means enjoying quiet time, reading a book, people watching and enjoying time with my family and friends.
I thought that the music played on the pool deck was a bit too loud - couldn't really hold any conversations without resorting to yelling. You may ask why I bothered to stay on that deck (a reasonable question) and my reply is that my daughter was frequently in the swimming pool and I needed to be close by. If they could just tone it down a bit…
I don't gamble, so I won't be able to offer my insight on the casino. My girlfriend, however, did enter the slot tournament and won $500!
The "Movies Under the Stars" - Princess' Cruises giant TV in the back pool area was an unexpected highlight of the cruise. We ended up attending 3 nights of movies on the big screen. Free popcorn is provided along with blankets. A nice addition to cruising.
I only attended a few of the other evening entertainment - namely the comedians. They were generally good to excellent. I didn't attend any of the "big" gala events, so no opinion is offered.
Princess Cay, the private resort in the Bahamas, was enjoyable. I think that these private island/resort areas are routinely popular because they play into what most people think of the Caribbean - an idyllic beach, somebody to bring you drinks, food, etc. The food was typical cookout fare - hamburgers, hot dogs and the like. I thought the rental "float" mats were a bit pricey at $8 for what works out as a couple of hours. I was most irritated that the soda stickers that the kids buy onboard ($30.80 including tax/gratuity!) were not usable on the island.
Overall Miscellanea Rating: B-Summary
As I said at the beginning, we still had a good time on the cruise. I'm a glass half full kind of person, so it would take a lot for me not to enjoy any cruise. I thought that I was "nickeled and dimed" a bit too much and overall my expectations were not met.
My favorite cruises still remain Royal Caribbean and Costa. I might be willing to try Princess again if I was traveling only with another adult, but would definitely not elect Princess with my daughter accompanying me.
Overall Rating: C+