CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews

Princess Cruises Dawn Princess by Brenda Moran Southern Caribbean November 18, 2000

Oh what a wonderful S Carribean cruise the Dawn Princess presented. We left 11/18 on American Airlines to San Jan via Miami. Embarkation was under 6 minutes incuding walking aboard. Luggage arrived in an hour. We were on Riviera deck #349. The BA balcony is twice as wide & high was the BD balcony we had in Alaska on Caribe deck #332. But the door faces the employee elevator & stock room which can make for a very noisy first & last night with luggage moving & banking into the door all night.

The welcome crew included our Head Waiter Genesis from the Venetian dining room which we again received our early seating at a table for 4 which made for an excellent end to the day. Genesis was so surprised when he saw me & then Jerry enter the ship. He told us who our waiter was & everything. He is amazing!

11/19 - First day is at sea, which was very windy & waves were beating the ship like crazy. From floor 12 we enjoyed the spray at breakfast from the bannaster which proved how forceful the waves were. We went down to 5 to sit in Magnum's bar to watch the enormous waves. Then back to change into our suits & out to the pool for the day. The Riviera pool is great with a area that surrounds the actual pool so kids and play safely in the 3" water, which I loved to sit & lay in to keep cool in the 88 degree sun. The pool inside was 11.5 feet at the deep end down to 5 feet at the other.

Then we decided to check out the aft pool which is small, has a glass door entrance, and a Jacuzzi next to it. TOO HOT since no wind was there so up to 15 for the SPLASH POOL. Boy did we learn why it has that name. We were solo trying to keep the towels attached to the loungers in the massive wind. Even my sunglasses blew off my face breaking into pieces. So we get aboard the chaises the lotion up & WOW a wave!!! It was from the 18" deep pool! This 8 foot diameter pool that was rocking back & forth in the wind & waves was splashing us with a refreshing waterballoon-effect of water.

Dressy dinner had me in my pearls, diamonds over a black lace floor length gown, Jerry in his dark suit & the photographers jumping us at the cocktail party. (Lousy photos too, reminds us of those prom shots). Elie our waiter was so attentive that he made for a very enjoyable week of dinners. Our tablemates were from Palm Springs, FL & a napkin was in front of their faces when they said it. They were so enjoyable for a distinguished 15-20 years older couple. Dinner was a look forward to event for all of us. We did have a photo taken that we did buy because we were so windburned that we glowed bright red in the shot!

11/20 - Trinidad was our first island & we must admit that it definitely is nothing to want to get off the ship for. The stink, the water & crap running down the street in these sewer-like reveens off a foot high curb. Wheelchairs had to turn around. And the people that jump you for cabs, tours, crafts - pushy is a compliment to describe them. So back to the ship we went to eat, swim, sun, meet more fun people that adopt us as part of their family: Joe & Judy from Barefoot Lake, FL. which I happened to notice her macaw earrings & that was the ice breaker. We did ports together a lot. Even went to their inner cabin ( wow is that small, with a bed that folds up to the wall above Jerry's head as we drank Bank beer. Princess does allow folks to bring booze aboard to enjoy in the room.

11/21 - Barbados, a step above Trinidad but not much. But they had a tent city of sale stuff with Hawaiian-type shirts for $12 made by a delightful Gracie, who's husband made steel drums with his father who was playing one for us. Gracie's hand sews the shirts, dresses & uses French seams which I watched her do. So we bought a dress for $10 & shirt that match, though we promised not to wear them together as we saw all over the ship. Oh & those braid gals, pushy! How funny folks looked all week in the badly done braids but the beads made it worth it for them I guess.

We did an excursion here that I STRONGLY RECOMMEND to everyone: Harrison Caves - WOW! Stalactites & Stalagmites so enormous it is hard to imagine without seeing. You wear a napkin atop your head that you cover with a hardhat. Then you board a tram that drives through the caves. NO CAMCORDERS but we got to use ours when I told the guide that it was a digital still camera also, which it was, but who knows if we are filming or shooting.

Then you drive to the top of the mountain for a truly dreamlike atmosphere of beauty with the ocean surrounding this very green island. Then we learned about some of the houses we have seen that are titled Chattle Houses. They are bought by workers who work for richer folks & they moves quickly between jobs by removing the roof & the sides collapse & you go. They looked 8 feet square. The islands are mostly BANKS! Chase, Citibank, many foreign ones as well as Price Waterhouse. So we know who owns the mansions atop the mountains...

11/22 - Antigua (pronounced ANTEEGA) and they let you know how to say it! This again was better than Barbados & well above Trinidad. We also noticed at breakfast on the balcony (which was delivered in under 3 minutes) which we enjoyed better than in the dining room, since the staff there must be the new hires. They are slow, uncoordinated, bring wrong food to folks or forgetting what I had ordered to be constantly corrected.

Joe & Judy meet up with us at a shop & she & I are going through magnets as souvenirs for folks. Joe disappears! We walk the street looking for him & after 30 mins he comes back stating that we have to go to the Sony Bldg. I laughed that it was a craft place with a shop selling Sony items tax free next door. There they bought me macaw earrings. What a sweet couple to make me so surprised & happy.

That night at dinner was CARIBBEAN NIGHT. Everyone was tropical in dress, Jerry in is handmade shirt from Gracie & me in my Hawaiian long dress with my orchid over my left ear (taken). The food was fruity, even pina colada soup. They called it soup, but it was a free PC in a goblet with fruit & straw, so I had 3!!!! Jerry went nuts over the Mahi mahi served, I was eating all the appetizers for dinner from shrimp cocktail, papaya plate, to a chicken Caesar salad with fruit in that too, Then Jerry joins me in some PC Soup..... We both ordered 2 deserts from the Love Boat dream (solid Godiva chocolate mouse in a heart shape, NY cheesecake, Petit Fours & Brule. I was full so I carried the Petit Fours back to the room, having to pass through the cocktail party for late dinners who remark what a great hors d'oeuvres & got slapped for touching my desert. We had a laugh over that....

11/23 - Tortola - WOW! From the moment we pulled into the inlet to then sail to the dock everything from the ibis flying over us, to the fragrance of orchids in the air; oh what a difference this made! Why didn't we just cruise here & stay 3 nights? So we did breakfast on the balcony eating the Petit Fours which we just wonderful with a carafe of coffee then upstairs to the Horizon Buffet for breakfast which is loads better than the dining room.

Then off the boat to get to a store called Sunny Caribbee. A gal a work with Jerry wanted him to get her some rosemary bath gel & Pussers rum, so we walked 4 square blocks to locate the shops. Sunny Caribbee is a spice store with a room filled with every imaginable spice know to man. Next door is their bath products with bath gels in fruits & spices, fragrance sprays that a juice based. Nice place that we bought Xmas gifts for our nieces, and something for both of us to bathe in & smell tropical in during the snow. Then to Pussers for rum (3 bottles for $23.85) and back on board since we have an excursion at 1PM-5:30PM. So we change into bathing suits, grab our snorkel bag with towels inside, lube up with suntan lotions & board the safari truck that seats 4 folks to a bench & 5 b bench long, driver in cab of truck. He takes us to the top of the Spencer Mountain to a rainforest, as advertised by Princess. These was lousy since everything was dying. Nothing close to a Hawaiian rainforest where it is raining while you are there & waterfalls, plants & trees galore, We saw 6 spiders in various spots, a tiny lizard run in front of us, a snake was seen by the first 5 in line; so you walk up & down for 1.5 hours. Then you get a small glass of rum punch & then we are off to Cave Bay for beach fun.

WOW the most amazing ocean we've ever been in. Bath water temp, very still waters, very greenish-blue & crystal clear. Itty bitty fish in swarms of thousands are all over & the bigger & bigger more colorful ones also. I saw a yellow & black snake getting a tummy rub in the sand down below then he swims away. A lobster with a claw out of the sand was another find. Then a big yellow & white fish swims right up to my mask, as advertised that Tortola has friendly fish, and BAM! I am hit by a force in the back of my head that knocked my air pipe out of my mouth. In front of me are 2 orange feet!!! Wondering what the hell happened I get to the top & there is a PELICAN looking at me in my mask. He tilts his head dumping water from his beak & then straightens his neck as I watch the fish go down his throat, There were 10 of them smashing head first into the water scaring the crap our of many swimmers. Dinnertime & they don't fear any of us actually floating in the water next to you. This was fun & a memoir forever.

Then we get back to the ship as they awaited us before pulling the gangway. 2nd dressy night & the 20 of us laughing at what we all look like. But in an hour everyone at dinner looking ravishing in gowns, jewels, tuxes, all the fun stuff of cruising, Princess did a huge Thanksgiving cake for the USA citizens & a Thanksgiving dinner that turned into the entertainment of our table. Everything from soup, salad dressing, mashed potatoes, stuffing, even the creme brule was all PUMPKIN! Jerry got the turkey which was dry & no gravy & pumpkin stuffing/potatoes that he pushed aside. I had beef medallions with a ceasar salad that Genesis made for me & it also had pumpkin potatoes that Carlton, our male tablemate clued me in not to eat. He orders the corn chowder to discover it has pumpkin in it. A major pumpkin overkill. Genesis stated to us that he has had complaints about the menu & I told him it was more Halloween than Thanksgiving.

I told you he was the best thing of the Dawn Princess from being the boss of the Horizon Buffet at breakfast, then the Head waiter in the Venetian Dining room in the evening. He tells us he naps a lot between shifts. He has waiters that leave weekly so he is busy training replacements for his dinner staff. I was correct stating that breakfast as well as buffets are training grounds for newcomers.

11/25 - Go home day ......... hugs from various folks saying goodbye from cruisemates to staff who knew us. Off the ship by 8:30 at SJU by 9AM for a 4PM flight that would turn into a nighmarish ending to a fantastic week.

This is a letter sent to the CEO of Northwest Airlines with copies to my TA & to Princess explaining everythng:

I am writing to inform you of our second one-way trip with your airline. After a fabulous cruise, we sat with 200 other folks from 10AM till the 4PM departure time not knowing what we were to be facing.

We arrived at SJU at 8:30AM with no one at the NWA ticket counter with 30 other folks from various cruise lines. Here we discover that NWA has only 3 flights from San Juan 3:45 & 4PM to Detroit & a 5PM to Memphis. So Continental's staff assisted us by paging NWA staff to come to the counter. Then the girl tells us all to go to gate 32 to await our flights. So we all sit for 6 hours till any gate agents show. There a massive line of folks to get boarding passes.

My husband received a letter with a Silver Elite card attached to it 2 days before the cruise, though we only had flow once with you before, one way to Anchorage on September 18th. So the agent upgraded us both to First Class as our 20th anniversary present from NWA. We were thrilled. This way our 2 seats were open for standby folks. She did the same with others too since First was empty. So we are taxiing at 4:10PM and the plane comes to a dead halt in the middle of the runway. There the pilot states he is having navigation errors that need to be corrected. So we sit. Then 30 minutes later he states we are returning to the gate for the mechanic to board and fix the problem & we'd be taking off shortly. At 5PM we learn that the computer broke & another was headed to us from Miami. So we are to exit with our carryons to go to a restaurant for dinner. So now we line to get vouchers for a Metropolis Restaurant, no others, and taxi vouchers. As we approach a taxi outside, they refuse to take the voucher. The land transport gal tells us that this is for Airport Limo Vans only. So 20 pile into the van to got to dinner.

The Metropolis is a Cuban establishment next door to a COCKFIGHTING Arena. The menu is in Spanish so no one knew what we are getting. Our water speaks broken English & didn't understand steak, hamburgers, anything we asked. Then another told us to get the Pepper Steak. So we did as we like Oriental food. Well the meat was grey in color, tasted terrible like it was boiled beef & the peppers were limp. Beans & rice next to it. We pushed it aside hoping to be fed on the plane. Then 50 folks are outside in the rain awaiting a van to take us back to the airport. 1.5 hour wait till one van showed. Then we finally get back to the airport to learn that the crew went to bed at the Hilton & everyone will be staying at the ESJ Towers. So we take our hotel voucher & share a cab with another couple so we can get to bed. This hotel had flooded floor outside our room. A king bed with twin sheets on it Loud people outside on their balconies all night, sparks flew from the thermostat every time the A/C went on in the very hot room & a smell in the place that made us leave a few hours later. The taxi driver refused our voucher so we paid $8 to get to the airport.

We sat till 6:30, with others who were also booked at the ESJ Towers and refused to stay there with the fear of lice, when the crew showed as well as gate folks to allow us on the plane. Talking with coach passengers, we in First learn that they stayed at the Hyatt, Hilton, Intercontinental even the Ritz Carlton enjoying room service with meal vouchers & those of us in First got the disgusting ESJ Towers. We were furious!!!

So now it is 6AM, we still can't use the breakfast voucher since nothing is open, so we get in line for our connecting flight tickets & boarding passes from Detroit on 11/26. Our flight will be at 9:30PM to Cleveland. They refused to change our flight to an earlier one since we were to arrive at 11AM & who wants to sit for 10 hours in Detroit. They stated that we must travel with our luggage. I asked about the partner airline Continental that is a hub in Cleveland if we could fly from San Juan on them & once again we were rudely told to sit down & await the plane we are booked on.

At 7:30AM, since the crew from American Airlines repairing the computer didn't show till 7AM, we depart. My husband & I were happy to be in First Class to get a well deserved meal of quality there, Guess what? Coach food for everyone, just like Southwest. No difference between coach or first class. Plastic pop-top containers holding mini fruit cup, cheese omelet, a tiny muffin that size of my thumb, a zip top orange juice & a zip top yogurt. Even got the plastic utensils with mini napkin. Again it was the same that was served in coach before the cart got into first to serve us. Even the white tablecloths were not available for row 4A-D. The first 3 rows had them. I noticed everyone in first closing up their lousy meal that tasted very strange. So we asked the Steward if he can find cookies, crackers, pretzels even SWA peanuts (as a joke since we need to laugh) and that was First Class's breakfast. No champagne offered to any of us by the staff. In fact a lady in front of us reported the overflowing toilet & smelly bathroom that coach was using as well as first & they closed it sooner than clean it & kept spraying an irritating air freshener over & over again.

Then we arrive in Detroit & have to wait in line again on the busiest travel day of the year, which we were to be home 12 hours ago, to learn that we were to wait till 9:30PM (10 hours) till we could fly home. My husband pulls out that Silver Elite card & the gals then will look to see if HE CAN GET AN EARLIER FLIGHT! What about me???? They tell me I am not silver elite. Then they smile & say they have 2 seats on a 4:30PM flight. He will be 2A & I am 20C. My husband says we sit together & we were first class from San Juan.............We wanted a supervisor. So a lady shows & puts us into 15 E&F on the 4:30 PM Flight. As we are boarding that flight, we hear surrounding NWA employee passengers being moved from coach into first which was half empty.

When we arrived in Cleveland, we asked to have our miles put on Continental One Pass & that was refused since it was on Silver Elite. We do not fly NWA & after this never plan to again. What a way to wreck a great vacation that Princess Cruises provided.

Oh what a wonderful S Caribbean cruise the Dawn Princess presented. We left 11/18 on American Airlines to San Jan via Miami. Embarkation was under 6 minutes including walking aboard. Luggage arrived in an hour. We were on Riviera deck #349. The BA balcony is twice as wide & high was the BD balcony we had in Alaska on Caribe deck #332. But the door faces the employee elevator & stock room which can make for a very noisy first & last night with luggage moving & banking into the door all night.

The welcome crew included our Head Waiter Genesis from the Venetian dining room which we again received our early seating at a table for 4 which made for an excellent end to the day. Genesis was so surprised when he saw me & then Jerry enter the ship. He told us who our waiter was & everything. He is amazing!

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