Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess by Bogeyjim Eastern Caribbean April 13, 2008
My wife and I, along with another couple who are close friends (mid 50's to early 60's) just returned from a cruise of the Eastern Caribbean on the Caribbean Princess. I have only cruised once before, five years ago on the Celebrity Summit, so I can only compare the performance of the staff to those on that ship.
We chose to take a package with a Saturday night in Ft. Lauderdale, and transfers to the ship and return to the airport at the completion of the cruise. We had a bit of a problem initially at the airport as we could not locate the Princess personnel who were to meet us and provide transportation to the Marriott North. After having them paged, all went smoothly getting us to the hotel. The hotel room was very nice and we were able to relax after the day of travel.
We had concerns about being picked up late in the day on Sunday but those fears were put aside when we were told to be ready in the lobby at 11:30 Sunday morning. We were on a bus by noon and on the way to Port Everglades. We arrived at the Princess terminal at about 12:30. The longest wait we had was in going through security, as it turned out two of the three personell performing that task were on lunch break. Once through security we proceeded to the Princess counter for our deck and within approximately 15 minutes were in our staterooms, it could not have gone more efficiently.
The rooms were fine. We had a balcony cabin and our friends an inside cabin, both at the rear of the Aloha deck. Our cabin steward was Rumiel from the Philippines. He was great, attending to every request that was made of him with a smile on his face always. He is truly an asset to Princess. Other staff was very good as well except for a very few exceptions. The wait staff was very good with several of our waiters (we chose anytime dining, and loved it) very friendly and personable. The food was not gourmet, but was very good in the restaurants. We did have dinner one evening at Sabatini's and it was excellent. Our biggest complaint on the whole cruise was the buffet in both the Cafe Caribe and Horizon Court. In a word these areas are "chaotic". There is no rhyme or reason to the lines for selecting your food and people are bumping into each other constantly. Also, no trays to put your plate or glass on, you have to carry them in hand. On the Celebrity ship the buffet was very orderly to the point where personnel were there to take your tray and carry it to your table when you came off the line. There were also occasions where personnel heading back into the kitchen and service areas cut in front of me, which would never have happened on the Celebrity ship, or at least not without an "excuse me". There were also several occasions in the Princess theatre where the cocktail waiters seemed as if they would like to have been somewhere else, instead of waiting on the guests.
The pool areas were very nice, and even on the "at sea" days we were always able to find four lounges next to each other. On the days that the ship visited the ports of call, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and Princess Cays, we stayed on board having visited the first two on our previous cruise, and we had the run of the ship. We would have like to have gone ashore at Princess Cays, but did not reserve cabanas for the beach ahead of time. When hearing that they only have 200 of them, we opted to stay on the ship rather than bake in the sun on the beach.
We saw several shows in the Pricess theare, the best of which was the "Beatlemaniacs". They were terriffic and their show was a trip down memory lane, most of the audience singing along with the group. Bert Stratton's piano/comedy show was also very good, and there was a comedian/magician, Michael James, who was also very entertaining.
I guess the word is that the ship is just about due for a trip to drydock for some rehab after four years of operation. While there were some areas that were showing some wear, overall the ship was kept in excellent condition.
When we returned on Sunday for disembarking, our instructions were to meet in one of the dining rooms at 8:45. We got there early and were released from the ship at about 8:15. It took us about 10-15 minutes to locate our luggage and we were then put right on a bus to the airport. Again, this process went like clockwork.
Overall, while the service level may not be quite up to what we experienced on Celebrity, I would have no second thoughts about taking another cruise on Princess.