My two long time friends and I were excited and really looking forward to a fun filled week aboard the elegant Star Princess. It was the first time crusing for one friend, the second for the other, however the tenth for me, my second with Princess. We arrived a day early from Canada and stayed the night at the Embassy Suites Hotel near the Ft.Lauderdale port.
The next morning we groaned at the sight of the very long line upon arriving at the pier at about 11:30 a.m. We quickly discovered that the line moved very well and in no time at all we were on board. The girls were immediately impressed with the elegance of the atrium. Our mini-suite cabin was on Dolphin deck ( deck 9 ), my first time in a suite. A "Welcome Back" card greeted me when we entered the cabin, which was a nice touch, as was having a Gold cruise card to indicate that I am a previous Princess cruiser. In the cabin there was a walk in closet with lots of space and hangers as well as a 5 shelved cupboard that all provided ample storage for 3 women.
The bathroom was a treat. A real bathroom! Very clean, with a full size tub, lots of shelves, vanity space and towels. The balcony had 2 large high back chairs with padded covers as well as a small table and 2 smaller chairs. The only thing about the balcony is it is not covered overhead and we were quite visible to all the decks above. Not a problem for us but some cruisers might not like the exposure.
We were each given a thick bath robe to use while on board and fresh pool towels were provided daily. Our cabin steward, Boni, was one of the best if not the best I have had in 10 cruises. He anticipated our needs and provided us with excellent service at all times, with a big smile. We decided to give him a bonus tip mid-week for his efforts.
We headed for the spa after touring the ship to book a full body massage with exfoilation. It was a fantastic way to freshen our skin and prepare it for the sun. The hot stone beds in the relaxation area prior to receiving the massage, were wonderful, as was the massage itself. I had checked out the Lotus Spa treatments on line prior to our departure and was surprised that the prices indicated on line, were not what we were told when booking our treatment. The Princess web site indicates that there are in-port and sea day prices which was incorrect according to the Spa staff who told us that the prices were all the same in or out of port. The difference in the prices indicated on line was considerable so inquire as to the cost before booking. A 20% gratuity is added to your bill unless you indicate otherwise. Unfortunately the Spa pool apparently permitted children to swim there which was a bit of a disappointment as I had hoped this would be one area where small kids would not be allowed. Why do people with small children take them to obvious adult areas?? I like to think I had more consideration when my boys were little, in fact I know I did. There are plenty of areas on this ship to accommodate small children. Parents, please leave one pool free for those of us who are on vacation without our children or for those who do not have children and do not find them quite as cute as you do.
Princess allows passengers to bring champagne and wine on board. This is a definite plus! Our cabin steward had a large ice bucket and 3 champagne glasses waiting for us after we mentioned that we were going to celebrate with a bottle of Dom. The dining rooms allow you to bring in your own wine but a corkage fee is applied to your ship board account.
We opted for Personal Choice dining which I was somewhat apprehensive about after reading some reviews that were not favourable to this style of dining. However we found it suited us very well. We waited only on occasion and for just 5 - 10 mins. The food and service was excellent and we always enjoyed the company of our fellow passengers, meeting new people each time we dined. We especially liked the staff in the Capri dining room and after a few days, made it our dining room of choice.The food and service was always excellent. A great selection, hot when it should be, and everything was cooked to perfection.
All areas of the ship were spotless and well presented. The only area that might have been designed better was the Horizen Court buffet as there are two ways to enter each service area causing confusion with the lines when busy. The food here was also very good, fresh and lots of variety, Never did the buffet food appear to me as something left over from the night before, as has been the case on some of my previous cruises.
The pizzeria pizza was excellent with great daily specials. There was an ice cream parlor but a charge for the ice cream.
The entertainment was very good, especially the comedians and the dueo, Live Wire. The Princess Dancers productions were satisfactory but not as good as some others I have seen on ships.
Skywalkers Disco at the top and back of the ship is an awesome place to dance, high above the water with a fabulous view and great dancing music.
We were notified prior to the cruise by our agent that the ship would not be going to Grand Cayman or Princess Cays due to damage from the hurricanes. To our surprise Grand Cayman was added to the itineary but a port change for Jamaica was announced. Montego Bay instead of Ochio Rios. This was a little disappointment as Dunn's River Falls was the only shore excursion we had booked and it had been cancelled. The Falls were added to the excursions for Montego Bay but included a 2.25 hour bus trip each way which we were not up for. We spent the day at Doctor's Cave beach which was very nice.The beach resturant served reasonably priced, good food. We went off on our own in all the ports since I had been several times and knew where to go and how much to pay.
On the second formal night, Princess' traditional Champagne Waterfall was fabulous. It is a very nice touch to the evening. Ladies took turns pouring the champagne into the top glass while everyone looked on and cheered as he ship's photographers captured it all.
I have to mention that the crew of the Star Princess always presented themselves and the activities with professionalism and enthusiasm that led one to believe it was their first time doing it all. Not once did we encounter a surly crew member. The last day of the cruise my friends received their Captin's Circle Club package welcoming them to the club. Another nice touch by Princess that demonstrates good customer service and encourages repeat cruising with Princess.
Disembarkation was smooth and orderly taking less time than I have previously experience even though we were among the last groups to leave the ship.
All in all we had a fantastic time and I would rate this cruise a 9/10. Star Princess.......Well Done!! I will definetly cruise with you again.