|# of Nights:|
I wasn't going to make this too long, but, unfortunately, when I get started talking I can't stop.
This was a repositioning cruise from New York to San Juan on the Caribbean Princess. We're experience Princess cruisers and, for the most par, this wasn't much different than most of the others. We got to New York from our home just outside Philly in a stretch limo (we cruised with another couple). This is the first time we did this, and we all loved it. We arrived at the Brooklyn pier about 12:30, and was through the check-in line in about 5 minutes. Unfortunately, the cruise before us had a Norovirus outbreak, and there was a delay in boarding till about 1:30 while the ship was disinfected. Our cabin was ready when we boarded. It was a balcony stateroom on the Aloha deck. It was pretty much what we expected. They are not the largest staterooms in the industry, but plenty large for the two of us. Our cabin stewardess was very efficient and very friendly. She knew our names from day 1 and always stopped to say hello.
We went up for lunch at the buffet, and we were early enough for little lines. Due to the Norovirus outbreak on the previous cruise, the crew was serving at the buffet. This slowed things down greatly. The buffet food was very good, though. We departed on-time, which is always a plus. The weather that day was in the low 60's and sunny; nice weather for the end of October and a great way to start the cruise.
The food as very good. The buffet breakfasts were pretty much what you would expect. The lines were long due to the crew serving, but on the 6th day, that ended, and you could serve yourselves. This really did cut down on the lines. Finding tables could be a challenge, but if you go back to the Cafe Caribe, there were always tables available there. We went to the dining room for breakfast a few days. It is nice to have breakfast served to us, and no lines. The breakfasts in the dining room were consistently good.
We never had lunch in the dining room. We either had the buffet, pizza, or the grille. The Pizza was delicious. The grille was OK, and the buffet was very good. Always a good assortment for everyone. The hot food was hot, and always a good assortment of desserts. The cookies were great. Again, look for seats back in the Cafe Caribe
Dinner in the dining room was consistently good. A couple of nights there was some strange things on the menu, but there was never a night that we couldn't find something to eat. One of our cruisecrazies is a vegetarian, and she had no problem finding anything to eat at any meal. Our wait staff in the dining room was excellent. They were friendly and personable. That always makes the dining experience more enjoyable. We sat at a table for 8 and it was a very compatible group. Another plus. We ate at Sabitini's one night (our anniversary). The food there was excellent. Go hungry or you will not get the appreciation of all the food. Our cruisecrazies made sure that the staff knew it was our anniversary, and they sung to us and gave us a special chocolate cake dessert. This cake was, without a doubt, the best dessert we had on the cruise. Dinner takes about 2 1/2 hours, so be aware.
We saw only 3 shows. The Piano Man show was excellent. The Caribbean Caliente show was not quite as good, but still was entertaining. The first night they had two comedians. The first was an impressionist who wasn't very good, but the second, who did stand-up was one of the best we've seen on a cruise. Sorry, but I can't remember their names. When I get out our Cruise Compass collection, I'll look it up and pass it along. Onr night we went up to see the MUTS movie. Unfortunately, it rained that night and we couldn't get the full appreciation of the experience.
We sailed during the World Series and this is one of the disappointments we had on the cruise. We couldn't find the Series anywhere on the ship except for the Skywalkers Nightclub. The TV's were so tiny there, you could hardly make out what was going on. We finally ended up in our cabin to each the end of the games. Being that the ship left from New York, there were quite a few Phillie's fans on this cruise. You would think that they would have it at least on in one of the lounges that had larger TV's. Club Fusion has much larger TV's, and the final night of the Series, they had a basketball game on their TV's. When our travelmates called the Cruise Director's office to ask if the Series would be showing anywhere, the response was "What's the World Series?".
The Caribbean Princess is a beautiful ship. It's going into drydock in January, and it does need it. There is a little wear and tear that you see throughout the ship, but certainly not anything that's enough to ruin anyone's cruise. The only major problem that we found was that the Air conditioning was lacking in much of the ship. Our room was warm, and when we called to complain, a maintenance person came up pretty quickly. He plugged a computer into the AC system and told us that he increased the flow. There was some improvement and the room was cool enough. It never got quite as cool as I would have preferred, but it was OK. There was griping about it all over the ship, and reading other reviews, this is not something new. One of our tablemates complained about it several times, and it was never fixed in their cabin. A Passenger Service rep came to their cabin, and said that it felt perfectly fine to him. He said that he has heard of no other complaints about the AC on the ship. This was a blatant untruth, and this is disappointing. We love Princess, but if this not the way to be treating their passengers. The couple who this happened to are also avid Princess cruisers and will be contacting Princess about this. I know that there is a generator problem on the ship, and I don't know if this is the problem. Nothing was said about it from the crew, and I'm sure that most people had no clue.
The only other things that we notice were a problem was the mattresses. They were quite hard and lumpy. I'm sure that they will be replaced when the ship goes in for drydock.
We were at two new islands this cruise. The first was St. Kitts. It is a beautiful island and would love to go back there again. We took the Scenic Railroad excursion. It is well worth it. There is a nice ride from the dock to the train with a good driver/guide. Don't sit up front in the bus. They drive on the left side of the road, and the roads are narrow and winding. The trip could be a bit harrowing. When you get to the train, don't sit in the first car. It's very noisy, and difficult to hear the guide. Also, it has a diesel engine, and the smoke is frequently going right through the car. Most people sit in the open-air car on the top of the train and it does give you a great view. It is a beautiful island. Rum drinks are provided at no extra cost. You can drink all you want.
Next was Antigua, another new island for us.. The island is not as beautiful as St. Kitts, but nonetheless very nice. We did a Swim with the Stingrays excursion. The workers were not very friendly, and you were not there very long. They said that noone would have a problem standing because the shallowest spot was 3 feet. However, Cindy (5'2") never could find a spot where she could stand. She had trouble throughout the swim, and didn't enjoy it too much. Another rum drink was provided there.
Our last stop was St. Thomas. We've been there before. We went on a tour of St. John's. We have never been over there, and enjoyed it greatly. This is another place that you don't want to sit up front. Hairpin turns, with traffic on the left. Lots of American tourists with 4x4's driving quite fast. This island has beautiful beaches, and looks like a great place to retire.
We (Cindy, that is) made sure that we had time to shop in St. Thomas. That's certainly a "necessity" when we're there.
We ended in San Juan. Disembarkation was a disaster. Princess blamed it on the Customs people, but when we finally got to Customs, we flew through that. The lounges were packed with people waiting for their color to be called, and there was nowhere to sit for hours. Once out of the ship, we were through customs and easily found our luggage. We had to still wait about another hour for our cruisecrazies to disembark.
Another problem that we had was the excursion we wanted to take prior to going to the airport. The Princess website advertised an excursion into the rainforest of Puerto Rico. You had to book any post-cruise excursions on the ship. When we got on the excursion desk, this excursion was not even offered. The ones that were offered were not anything that we wanted to do, and we were in a dilemma. When we finally decided to pick on, it was sold out. If we had known that the excursion we wanted was not going to be available. we would have booked a private excursion. This is the first time we have disembarked with no idea what we were going to do. Our plane didn't leave until 7pm. Luckily, we found a great cab driver. He took us on a tour of old and new San Juan. He dropped us at El Morro (none of us have been there before), and waited while we toured the fort. He then took us to a great restaurant for dinner and waited for us to finish. He got us to the airport about 4pm,and this gave us ample time to get through all of the hoops in the airport. Our problem with the missing Princess excursion turned into a blessing. The trip was less than half the cost of a Princess excursion, and they would have dropped us at the airport at about 1pm. When we got to the gate, there were people who have been sitting there for hours.
There were a few problems, but all-in-all we had a great cruise. Don't let the little things get to you (I can't say I always take my own advise). We will definitely go back on Princess, and still think it's our favorite.