Prior to the cruise we stayed at the Amerisuites in Fort Lauderdale. We got this hotel thru Priceline for $35.00 per night - a real bargain as they provide shuttle service to the airport and the port and a continental breakfast. Check in was painful - long lines and no seating. After finally reaching the counter, we were sent away to fill in more paperwork (which seemed to be consumer info for princess). Couldn't they have handed this out while we were standing in line? One and a half hours later we were finally on board. Our cabin was an outside on the emerald deck, very ceonvenient for the dining rooms and elevators. Tis was the smallest cabin we have ever had, and the bathroom was miniscule with only 3 small shelves for storage. It was nice to have a mini-refrigerator and our cabin steward was the best (Rogerio). The ship was immaculate at all times, but not as glamorous as some of the other ships.
The food in the dining room was quite good, the rack of lamb the best I have ever had, but the lobster was tough and tasteless.The steaks were OK but the primerib was excellent. However the waitstaff were not up to the standards we have come to expect on cruises and I can only assume that Princess new policy of pooling all tips is to blame. There is no incentive to go the extra mile now, as bad waiters and good receive the same amount. Even if you give cash tips they have to put it in the pool. For the first time cruising,we had surly waiters who did not even introduce themselves, and a couple of times witnessed them being rude to passengers. The Harvest buffet was adequate - we had breakfast there most days, the variety of food seemed quite limited and the traffic pattern very conjested. Again the waiters were slow in clearing the tables. The cruise directors staff seemed to be non-existant, the only time we saw them was at the shows and the few activies they put on.
There seemed to be a lot of time on board with no planned activities. The shows were mostly singing and dancing, most people seemed to enjoy them. By far the best was the crazy magician,"Micheal (the kid) James". Don't miss him as he had us in stitches at his bizarre sense of humor, he earned a standing ovation at his second show.
Princess cays was very nice,efficient tendering,lots of shady loungers and plenty of ice water available. Sunscreen and insect repellent are a must! In St. Thomas we shopped for our dutyfree liquor and then took a taxi to Magens Bay, $6.00 pp ew, and $3.OO admission. It is a beautiful beach but watch out for the iguanas in the trees! St. Maarten is the place to buy cigarettes, and there is a beach within walking distance from the pier. St. Vincentes is a good day to do laundry and relax on the ship. (Machines are free, detergent $1.00) On Barbados we rented a taxi and toured the island- about $20.00 per person for 3 hours, previous reviews warned of getting ripped off by the drivers,we had no problems and did not hear of any. Make sure you see the size of the taxi first - 4 people can be a tight squeeze in the little sedans! Antigua - it poured with rain so we just walked into town and the casino, which is right at the pier. Their machines actually paid out,unlike the ship!
Seadays there was not much to do - what activities there were overlapped, so you could only catch a couple. Plenty of deck chairs around the pool, but for a relaxing spot to read, try the upper front of the ship. No farewell party, they do a champagne waterfall instead, but they have done away with the formal receiving line and the interminable introductions of the crew. All in all, it was good value for the money - but RCCL does it better!