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Background: DH and I have cruised more then 30 times on various lines but this is the first Princess cruise we have done in 5 years. There is no such thing as a bad cruise, just different from the others we?ve taken.
Embarkation: Boarding was awful. They mean it when they say you can?t get on before 1:00. We were turned away by the port officials at 11:00 and told not to return until 1:00. Please know that if you take a bus you will be allowed in the terminal, not sure about cabs. This wouldn?t be a problem but we had to check out of our hotel so we really had no where to go. Part of the problem was caused by the hurricane and many parts of the city were without power. The beach was also impossible to get to due to the sand erosion. We?ll have a different plan next time for sure. We have also experienced long lines at this port before but not like the ones we noticed later in the afternoon. The line to embark stretched through the parking lot! The worst we have ever encountered. Not sure if it is Princess or the design of the terminal. We arrived at 12:45 and were aboard in about 40 minutes.
Cruise Personalizer: They did put balloons outside our door on the day requested and my husband received a discount at Diamonds International coupon if he would like to buy me something??..I really laughed at that one!
The Ship and the crew: The ship is lovely, not over the top but quite nice. There were some issues with the layout (like the stairs that suddenly stop) but we eventually got the hang of it. The crew seemed to be quite good upon our boarding but we really noticed that the service seemed to be lacking in some areas. More about that later.
The cabin: We had a balcony on Caribe deck! Excellent! Lots of room. We had 2 lounge chairs as well as a real table and 4 chairs. The 2 of us managed well in our cabin. We loved the design of the closet and the cabin. Only wish was for a bigger shower (of course). I kept hitting my arm into the grab bar. Storage was good and our cabin stewardess Elena from Romania was excellent! Only 1 shelf in the shower and 3 small ones in the bathroom.
The food: The pizza on the ship was excellent. My DH liked the grill also. The buffets were lacking. The set up was poor and hard to maneuver. The food itself was drab to say the least especially breakfast. Lunch also lacked many days. Snack was pretty much the same things they served for lunch. The dining room menu was very similar to the buffet at lunch. We had anytime dining and ate in the Palm dining room each evening. The first night was a disaster. We went to dinner around 7:00 and had no problem with lines. Our waiter however was poor and didn?t even ask if we wanted anything else, check on us during the meal, no small talk, etc. Very bad first experience with this type of dining but we decided to give it another shot the next evening. We found a marvelous waiter Radto from Thailand. He was perfect!!! He was very courteous, friendly and eager to please. We wanted to eat with him each night since he was so good. We had an issue trying to get this arrangement but thanks to Radto who took on an extra table of 2 it was arranged. At this point I must say that the door matre?d tried to accommodate us but did a poor job until we gave him an extra tip. Now I don?t mind giving extra and usually do but I felt I had to in order to be happy. We took very good care of Radto at the end of the cruise.
Formal nights were Monday and Wednesday.
Ports: We have been to all the ports on previous cruises except Princess Cays. We didn?t spend much time there as the weather was cloudy and if you?ve seen one private island, you?ve seen them all. Jamaica we disembarked at the James Bond Pier. Awful! Took a cab to do some shopping and returned to the ship. Cozumel we spent the day at Paradise Beach and loved it as usual. Grand Cayman we stayed on board and enjoyed the pool.
Disembarkation: The process was very long and they didn?t start calling colors until almost 9:00 AM. Fortunately the airport is close to the port for all those with early flights. Princess disembarks by floor, starting at the top for the general ship population. Early flights and Captains club got priority. Fortunately we were able to find our luggage quickly and headed out of the terminal.
Suggestions to Princess: You can take lessons from other lines with your Princess Patters. This paper is very difficult to read with things spread out way too much. The buffets were laid out poorly and they should be larger next time. Also the show lounges on this ship are way too small. If you didn?t arrive ? hour early you couldn?t get a seat. Also print more 6X8 photos!!! Mostly expensive 8x10's available.
This was a lovely week for us DH and I as we were celebrating our 21st wedding anniversary. We try to get away once a year alone. We liked Princess but would never do this ship again because of the layout and the size. We have cruised on the Voyager class ships many times and they are laid out much better. We did do an open booking and will take another Princess cruise in the future but on a different class of ship.