November 20, 2006
Sun Princess Cruise
DH and I are in our mid fifties. We've cruised four times before on Carnival Inspiration, Carnival Elation, Grand Princess and NCL Sun. Our favorite of these was the Grand Princess. This was a rest and relaxation cruise for us.
The flights to Ft. Lauderdale were uneventful, unlike the flights home.
We stayed the night before our cruise at the LaQuinta Inn, Hollywood, FL. It's a nice hotel with friendly people and a shuttle from the airport to the hotel and from the hotel to the port. The shuttle left the hotel at 11:00 AM on Monday and we were at the port terminal before 11:15. As soon as we got off the shuttle a porter took our checked luggage and, while there are signs saying tipping is not required, we tipped him $6.00 (3 bags).
Embarkation went very smoothly. We waited just a few minutes outside. When we entered we were given a piece of paper with a number on it. We found seats and they immediately began calling numbers. After about five minutes our number was called and we went to check in. The lines are divided by deck. We were in the Caribe line and it took about ten minutes to check in. Onward to the embarkation photo, then onto the ship! This was the only photo that was taken of us the entire cruise and it was awful, so we didn't buy it.
Since this was a longer cruise, there were very few children on board. We overheard someone say there were forty, but we never saw more than four or five at a time. Most people were our age or older, which was fine with us.
We went to our cabin, C417, a balcony cabin on the starboard side. It was ready for us and we unpacked our carry-on's and checked out the cabin. It was smaller than some cabins we've had, but very well laid out. We met our wonderful cabin steward, Imran, who asked what he could do for us and was very efficient and friendly throughout the cruise. We told him the closet doors squeaked (like fingernails on a blackboard!) and by the time we returned to the cabin they'd been fixed.
About the Cabin:
Across from the bathroom is the closet. The left side had a shelf at the top and room for hanging longer clothes (great for me, as I mostly wear sundresses). There's also a full length mirror on the inside of the door. The right side had two poles for shorter clothes. There's also a tie rack on the door. Next to the closet is an area with shelves, the safe (you put in your own combination), and two shallow sliding wire drawers. The top shelf is taken up by the life jackets.
There's a small shelf with a mirror next to the bathroom door. This was perfect for me to put on makeup. Under this shelf is an outlet! Unless you looked for it you might never see it! It was a perfect place for a nightlight and for recharging the cell phone. There's one nightstand with a drawer and two open shelves.
Next to the TV is a small shelf. Under the TV area are three small open shelves and the refrigerator. The refrigerator kept our soft drinks quite cool.
There's a small, but fairly comfortable club chair and a small stool/table between the TV area and the desk. The desk has three drawers on each side, an outlet, a mirror and the hair dryer is mounted on the wall next to the mirror. DH found the hair dryer to work fine for him. My hair is very short and curly and "air-dries".
The balconies on this ship have been cut out of the hull and are very small, but fine for two people. There were two chairs and a small table on the balcony. Being cut out of the hull, the balcony was covered. Remember not to open the balcony door and the cabin door at the same time. You'll create a "tornado" and anything not held down will go flying!
We never had trouble finding a place to sit anywhere on the ship. (We don't sit in the sun, so we didn't have the "chair hog" problem.) Our favorite place to have a drink and "people watch" was the La Patisserie bar on the port side of the Atrium. There were two wonderful bartenders there, Ted and Girlee, both from the Philippines. They were very friendly and remembered what we liked to drink. The Wheelhouse bar was very nice, but too crowded and noisy for our tastes. We never made it to the Shooting Stars nightclub, but heard that it was a lot of fun.
We chose Personal Choice Dining in the Marquis dining room since we don't like to eat at a set time and we enjoy being seated with different people. We found the food in the dining room to be very good. On Thanksgiving evening they served twin lobster tails which were the best I've ever had on a ship. The service was good and we were happy with everything we ordered. We also ate in Verdi's Trattoria a few times and at the Horizon Court buffet once. The pizza at Verdi's was very good. The buffet was, well, a buffet… Edible, but not very good. We do like the setup of different stations but, as usual, some people tried to line up like they were in a cafeteria.
I don't enjoy the casino, but DH enjoyed it and "donated" enough for the both of us!
Ports and Excursions:
Our next port, on Friday, was Isla Margarita, Venezuela. We didn't plan a tour here so we just got off and shopped at the small market on the pier. We met a woman here who posts on the cruise boards and I bought a very pretty blue cat's-eye bracelet from her.
On Saturday we ported in Bridgetown, Barbados. Here we took the ship's tour, Island Highlights and Sudbury Plantation. We enjoyed this tour with stops at St. John's Church, Gun Hill Signal Station, and the Plantation. All three stops were interesting and offered great views for photos.
Sunday was Roseau, Dominica. We shopped a little at the pier in the morning and then took the Whale and Dolphin Watching tour. This was the only tour we had pre-booked. We enjoyed the boat ride, but the only things we saw were some flying fish!
On Monday we ported at Crown Bay in St. Thomas, USVI. We had to get up early to go through immigration since we were back in the US. It went very quickly and we took an early tour, St. Thomas Island Tour. We went along Skyline Drive, stopping occasionally for photos. We also visited Mountain Top and St. Peter Greathouse. After the tour we decided to stay in town and shop a little. We took a taxi back to Crown Bay for $4.50 each. The shops there are not open yet, but we did see people working on the inside.
Tuesday was another sea day, and we really needed a break! Five ports in five days is a lot!
Wednesday we tendered into Princess Cays. Princess Cays is actually on Eleutherea Island, Bahamas. That's why you have to fill out a Bahamas Landing form early in the cruise for any cruise going to Princess Cays. The tender ride to and from the island was a tour in itself! We're not "beach people" so we just walked around, had a Bloody Mary, checked out the shopping and went back to the ship.
That evening after dinner we packed our large suitcases and put them outside the cabin door. We left the automatic tipping on and tipped extra to our wonderful cabin steward, Imran, and to our great bartenders at La Patisserie, Ted and Girlee.
Thursday was disembarkation day. Earlier in the week they had sent a form for us to fill out with our flight information. We were scheduled to fly out of Ft. Lauderdale at 12:20 PM, so we were called in the third group to leave the ship. We went to breakfast at Horizon Court, and then went to La Patisserie to wait for our number to be called. We were off the ship and on the Princess transfer bus by 8:30 AM and at the airport before 9:00 AM. There we learned that our flight had been canceled because of snow and sleet at DFW, but we were able to get an earlier flight. We also got an earlier flight from DFW, but spent over 3 hours on the tarmac waiting to get de-iced! By pure luck we were assigned seats next to the emergency exit and were at least able to stretch out. We got home (finally!) at 9:00 PM.
This was our best cruise, ever! The only problems I can think of were the closet doors, which were fixed almost immediately, and one time we got the wrong tour tickets. I took them back to the shore excursion office and that was also taken care of quickly and with a smile. Apparently no one else had many problems, either. Until the last day when people were settling their accounts, there was never a line at the Purser's Desk. I've never seen a less busy Purser's Desk! The few times we went there to get a printout of our account or get change we walked right up to the desk.
We enjoyed this cruise so much that we were ready to cancel our cruise next year on Caribbean Princess and book the Sun Princess again, but found out that it will be going to P & O Australia in 2007. We hope to sail the Sun Princess again in 2008!