Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess by Melissa Eastern Caribbean August 15, 2008
My parents have been cruising for years, and I had tagged along for a few when I was a teen. Now that I am in my late 20's and engaged, my fiance and I have taken to cruising as well.
This is the second ship that we have been on in the past year and we prefer Carnival, hands down. We are not big drinkers or partiers, either.
PROS Princess has embarkation down cold. They are excellent at moving a line and getting you on your ship very fast. You get your luggage within an hour or so of being on the ship, too. Very nice starting point, in my opinion.
The ship is pretty big in comparison to others that I have traveled on. Therefore, you are less likely to feel it moving, rocking, etc. Because it is so large, you can find a lounge chair in the sun (but if you want one by the movie screen, you need to get there before 10am).
The cabin steward was a doll. He worked hard and was always pleasant and helpful.
Entertainment was above average. The comedian was funny and the hypnotist was enjoyable. I looked forward to the nightly shows.
CONS The senior cruise staff was often rude and rushed. They would host a trivia game and want to get through it as quickly as possible. My fiance and I went to a Wii bowling tournament one afternoon and the guy in charge was so annoyed at the people who had never used the Wii. We ended up teaching people to play (we own one and had played before). The guy just kept saying he couldn't believe that they had never done it before (the people playing ranged in ages from 20s to 60s -- give them a break). The cruise director's staff did little to make me feel comfortable or even happy all week (I am not including cabin stewards -- they are sweet and helpful). I'm the easiest person to please, and they just didn't even try. This was very disappointing.
The casino staff weren't very nice, either. I play roulette and my fiance plays poker, blackjack and tried craps. I like to banter with the dealer when I play, try to establish a little relationship with the person taking my hard earned money, etc. There was only one dealer who would talk back and joke with me. The others were quick to roll the ball and call "no more bets." I lost enough over the span of the cruise, but I could have lost a lot, lot more if there was a decent dealer on deck.
Every activity listed in the Patter (the onboard itinerary) has a "nominal fee." On Carnival, my fiance got free golf swing lessons, played ping pong, golf, trivia, etc., etc. On Princess, he ventured up to the golf area and was told that he could sign up for a clinic at $40 per half hour. We would go to bingo and the card packages were in a range from $10 to $50, and you need to buy a bingo dauber to play. The Scholarship at Sea was offered each day for fees ranging from $25 and up. Temporary tattoos are $7 and up. It just never ended with the nickel and diming on this ship.
The food is, quite simply, bland and cold. The buffet was boring and inedible. The dining room was decent, but not what I have come to expect from a cruise ship. I CRAVED Carnival's warm chocolate melting cake every night. Princess had little selection and almost no taste. I was actually excited to get home and cook my own meals with some flavor (and seriously -- whoever says that after a cruise?)
Everything must go to your shipboard account. I like to pay a little cash here and there, but Princess makes you sign for everything. And, they charge a little more than other ships for their gratuity. It is $10.95 per person/per day. I was tempted to have it taken off of my account and just give cash to the room steward only (let's face it -- the maitre d' doesn't really deserve his dollar a day but the steward should get more than $3 of that $10.95). I didn't bother, in the end. I wish that there was a way you could adjust the gratuity to who you felt deserved it more.
And finally -- the ship's design is one of the worst ever! The dining rooms are at midship, but you have to walk past them and then go down a flight of stairs -- they are not accessible from all sides. It is strange. You can't just walk around and find things to do -- you need to know where things are. I like to take stairs (a little exercise, I figure), but it was annoying to navigate the levels. It is hard to explain, but those who have been on the ship will understand.
I heard throughout the vacation that the staff was ready to leave (our Carribean cruise was the last for the ship -- it is now doing tours of New England and a majority of the staff was getting their month off at the end of our cruise). I spent almost triple on the Carribean Princess than I did on the Miracle last year and was so disappointed that I came to Cruisemates to give a review. I don't mean to bash it, but seriously -- I'd need to be offered some AMAZING deal to travel with Princess again.