This was our fourth cruise on the Sun Princess and our 14th cruise in all, 13 of them being on Princess ships. This review will not be a comparison of Princess to other carriers but a subjective review of Princess and the Sun. Pre Cruise - Being from the snowy North (Michigan) we opted to fly into FLL a day early. We booked a pre cruise as offered by Princess at the Marriott North in Fort Lauderdale for $69 pp including all transfers. The rooms, if booked separately were over $200 per night. The Princess package was an exceptional value. We were picked up at the Hotel at about 12:45 on sailing day. The ride to the ship was about 20 minutes.
Embarkation - Embarkation was a breeze, as always. From the time we got off the bus until we were on the ship was about 10-15 minutes. The only bad experience we have ever had with Princess embarkation was in New York City.
We had lunch in the pizzeria - our luggage arrived about 3:30. We had an inside room as we normally do. Since we only sleep and shower in the room we don't feel we have to go the extra expense for an outside or balcony. There was adequate room to store all of our stuff in closets and drawers and our luggage under the bed. We had 2 29" pullmans, 2 airline carryons and a medium size rolling duffel. Yes, we always pack too much. Our cabin steward Jose fixed us up with robes and hangars and a few other requests in a prompt manner. I noticed some loose hinges on the closet doors and asked Jose if he could get them fixed. An hour later a maintenance man was in the cabin repairing the hinges.
After unpacking and muster we went up to Topsiders at sailaway to meet some fellow cruise critics and have a sailaway drink.
Ship condition - The ship was in excellent condition, as it was on our first Sun cruise in 1997. Crew was constantly painting and refurbishing deck chairs and boxes.
Food - The food, as always, was excellent - not true gourmet quality, but as good as or better than most 3 and 4 star restaurants that we have dined in. It looked as if they had some new items on the menu. We usually eat all of our meals in the dining rooms as opposed to the Horizon Court buffet. We think the food is better, hotter and we enjoy being waited on.
Ice Cream - I know there are a lot of complaints about having to pay for the Hagan Daaz ice cream. The Princess ice cream is made on the ship and is better than Hagan Daaz and can be had with breakfast, lunch, dinner and at 3:30 in the Horizon Court - How much more ice cream does a body need?
Entertainment - The production shows were the same as we have seen on previous cruises but with different singers and dancers. We still enjoy watching them perform. We had seen the comedian and singer on previous cruises but they had some new material and were good. The lounge entertainer in the Atrium Lounge at night was very good. He sang and played mostly show tunes from Gershwin and Cole Porter. He had an extensive biographical knowledge of the Gershwin brothers, Cole Porter and their music. He also had a different type of humor which some people did not care for but he had standing room only every night. He picked on everybody in the audience or walking by with no regard for anything - kind of a Don Rickles type of humor - We thoroughly enjoyed him and were in the audience every night.
Antigua - We arranged an independent tour with a local for $20 pp. He took us on a 4 - 5 hour tour and offered a beach stay for two hours. He was very good.
Barbados - We had been to Barbados before so we just wandered into town.
St. Vincent - There is nothing in St. Vincent - it appeared to be a cheap fuel stop for the ship.
St. Martin - There were a total of 5 ships in port here - the town was severely crowded - St. Martin is a good place to get booze.
St. Thomas - We booked an independent tour with a local here also. He offered a 2 hour tour - 2 hours shopping and 2 hours at a beach for $20 pp. Very good.
Disembarkation - Disembarkation went fairly smooth - it seems there is always a madhouse in the terminal looking for luggage. Princess needs to organize this a little better. The Disney people (we have taken one Disney cruise) really do it good, but I don't know how. They disembark by early or late seating. After you eat breakfast you leave the ship - there are porters who will ask you your cabin number and number of bags and he finds them quickly with no tangle of people wandering around looking for their bags.
Overall - Overall we really enjoyed the cruise - the food quality was some of the best we have experienced on Princess. Why do we keep going back to Princess? "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."