My husband and I (ages 51 and 53) just returned from the February 20th sailing of the Star Princess. Overall it was a pleasant and relaxing experience. This was our 6th cruise and our 2nd on Princess. We had previously sailed on Grand Princess and loved that ship. We flew from Boston to Fort Lauderdale the day before sailing and stayed at the Holiday Inn on the beach. I got it for a great price on Priceline. It was clean and quiet but certainly not a very attractive hotel.
We arrived at Port Everglades at 11:45 and were in our stateroom by 12:15. We were in a mini-suite on Dolphin Deck, category AA. The balcony is not covered and juts out from the ship but we loved it. We had cocktails on the balcony every evening and coffee every morning. We thoroughly enjoyed our mini suite and would book it again. A little extra room just made the cruise more comfortable. The room did show some wear: frayed drapes and stains on the couch. Our room steward, Ricky, was wonderful. He kept the room immaculate and made sure we had clean pool towels daily. He was attentive but not intrusive.
We chose personal choice dining because we had found it perfect for our schedule on the Grand. We did have to wait one evening (first formal night) for 30 minutes. The other evenings we chose to eat late, at 8:30 and never waited. We did eat at large tables and met very nice and interesting people. We also ate some breakfasts and lunches in the dining room. Overall the food in the dining was good. It was not exceptional but on par with land resorts. There was enough variety and I particularly liked the lamb on Island Night..really tasty. I also appreciated the always on the menu items of shrimp cocktail and Caesar salad. I felt the desserts in the dining room however were excellent. I am a true chocoholic and the chocolate desserts I had were great. We ate some breakfasts and lunches and 2 dinners at the Horizon Court. I felt the food here was inconsistent. For example the French toast was good but the pancakes were cold and rubbery. We also had pizza, burgers, and hot dogs at the grills. The pizza was great and my husband loved the burgers.
We attended many of the evening shows. We always went to the late performances and never had a problem finding a seat. The comic Sarge was super. We saw him twice and thoroughly enjoyed both routines. We also attended the Broadway Review and the show entitled Da Beat. Both shows were energetic and enjoyable. To get out of the sun we enjoyed the movies shown in the afternoon in the Princess Theatre.
Our itinerary was Eastern Caribbean and included San Juan, St. Thomas, and Tortola. The ship was scheduled to dock in San Juan at 3PM. It never docked till 9PM and each person received a $50 shipboard credit for this late docking. The ship's claim was that rough seas caused the lateness. Many passengers didn't believe this as Star has been docking late consistently in San Juan for the past month. Our next stop was St. Thomas and we took the ship tour to Megan's Beach. It was a nice beach but very crowded and the trip was too short. Tortola was our next stop and we took the ship tour to Lambert Beach Resort. This was a full day and included lunch. It was a nice beach and we got to see much of Tortola while riding there. Our tour guide Ray, was great. I would return to this island. Finally we reached Princess Cays. What a great place to relax. We got off the ship early and just relaxed on the beach and ate at the barbecue.
We really enjoyed the pool that was all the way aft. This was the adults only area and was always quiet and relaxing. There are lounge chairs here as well as tables and chairs. We often got our lunch and brought it out here to enjoy the fresh air and the view. It was also breathtaking at sunset.
Overall we enjoyed this cruise. I would have to say that even though the Star is a sister ship to the Grand, I liked the Grand better. When we sailed on the Grand it was not yet owned by Carnival, and I found the Grand's atmosphere and climate more pleasant and positive. The crew in all areas seemed happier and more satisfied with their jobs on the Grand. I also feel that the crew members were more attentive on the Grand. One evening on the Star I received the wrong meal and there was no attempt to get me my correct order. At breakfast we often had to find our waiter to get coffee refills and toast. These are just small incidents but they do make a negative impression on passengers.
We will sail again on Princess but we will also look into Celebrity and Royal Caribbean. Hopefully Princess will be able to retain its own personality and atmosphere now that it has been acquired by Carnival. Star is a beautiful ship and the Eastern Caribbean is an enjoyable itinerary.