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Graduation Getaway


JohnG
"A short getaway to celebrate my daughter's grad school graduation."

Overall Rating: Very Good

TRIP INFO

Sail Date:05/19/2014
Destination:Caribbean - Western
Departed From:Fort Lauderdale
# of Nights: 3-4 Nights
Cabin Type: Suite
Sailed As: Family

RATINGS

Food:<p>1</p>
Itinerary:Very Good
Cabin:Excellent
Entertainment:Very Good
Overall Value:Very Good
Spa/Fitness: Didn't Use
Embarkation: Very Good
Debarkation: Excellent
Staff/Service: Excellent
Overall Rating: Very Good

COMPLETE REVIEW

We sailed a short 4 day cruise on Caribbean Princess to celebrate my daughter’s graduation from grad school and May birthday. She graduated May 17 and start work June 2, so we were limited to choices. The 4 day itinerary, with 1 port day in Cozumel and the days to and from to relax at sea, was just right for us.

We are Platinum Captains Circle members, but hadn't sailed on Princess in years. We had booked an MB minisuite, but were upgraded the week before sailing to a Vista Suite. These are aft facing suites with a minor obstruction on the balcony, a vertical beam to the deck above. I have sailed over 80 times, and this was the first suite we were in. The bath suite, stocked minibar, exclusive breakfast in Sabatini's, large balcony and stateroom were great. They had decorated the door with a congratulations magnetic sign and balloons, and more balloons inside. We hadn't told my daughter about the upgrade. The only negative was that the sofa bed had a mattress about 2 inches thick. We got the stateroom attendant to get a "crate" pad to add to the mattress, and we added a bedspread to that and it worked. The bed is only suitable for children, not an adult.

My daughter also needs gluten free and lactose free diet, and the first night the assistant Maître De, Nicholas, came by with the menu for the next night and let her make her selections. They repeated each night. In addition, each night they had a special dessert for her, complete with congratulations sung, happy birthday sung, and a ukulele wielding waiter singing an Elvis song from Blue Hawaii. They were terrific, as was our waitress from Bulgaria. Dinner choices included prime rib the first night, surf and turf one night, diver scallops another night, and escargot and cioppino the last night. There was a lengthy "always available" list on the menu, and my wife had fish choices available for her every night. We ate at the 8pm dining. I particularly enjoyed the Suite benefit of the breakfast in Sabatini's with mimosas, absolutely perfect eggs Benedict, etc. My complaint about dining is the Horizon Court. The layout is terribly small and very crowded at breakfast and lunch with up to 2,500 people trying to use a compact area. At breakfast a nice feature is that you can order an omelet and they give you a receipt. You can then be seated and give the receipt to a waiter and they will bring it to you. Very nice.

One night the production show was after dinner, and the other nights it was before dinner. Two production shows with some excellent entertainers, and two nights it was comedians. They also had new movies available in the theatre, as well as outdoors on the mega screen. Include were some like 12 Years a Slave, Saving Mr. Banks, Gravity, etc. There seemed to be ample space and lounge chairs available around the two main pools and decks above. My wife, who walks about 14 miles a day on cruises, found the 2.7 lap/mile on the promenade unavailable in the mornings as they had it blocked off for cleaning and she was forced to walk the interior decks. She uses a pedometer so she still was able to log her distance. Some people recognized her walking and said they remembered her from the Celebrity Reflection in March!

On the 4 night cruise there are no formal nights, but they did have one Dress Your Best night for those who wished to do so.

Embarkation was pretty smooth in the terminal, and the suite was available when we arrived about 1:30pm. Unfortunately they don't take your photo at check-in in the terminal, but as you board the ship, causing some backup in the line. Luggage arrived right after the 3:30 boat drill. Debarkation was quiet, but lengthy, due to congestion in the terminal. The last people were allowed to debark at 10:30am. They do have multiple customs/immigration officers thought. Everyone is assigned to a waiting area, as you should vacate your stateroom by 8am, but there are no announcements. There is a schedule for each color luggage tag, and the staff in the various waiting area notify the occupants when they can debark.

Our only port was Cozumel, which we have been to MANY times. We chose a Shore Excursion Group excursion to sail and snorkel in two locations and adult beverages and outstanding guacamole on the way back. It is discounted right now. The dive master spent excessive time covering every safety and snorkel equipment detail before we went in the water. They had a guide in the water leading the group. There were only about a dozen people onboard the catamaran, and 4 staff. The first snorkel spot had great coral and fish, and the second, part of the Chankanaab reef, had been severely damaged by Hurricane Wilma and so not as many fish, but we did see a stingray. After debarking we took a taxi to Mr. Sancho's beach, which we had been to before. Free admission, excellent food, and moderately priced drinks. Not nearly as crowded as Playa Mia. We had a nice day in Cozumel, as we arrived at 8am and sailed at 6pm. The ship doesn't change time, so Cozumel was an hour behind the ship time.

Internet service is quite fast. Some of the best I've seen. As Platinum members, my wife and I both had 150 free minutes, so that was ample for us to check email, etc. I used my Ipad in the suite, but it wouldn't work on the balcony. The library is where the internet center is located, and it was only 50 cents to log on and print our boarding passes for the flight home. Unlike Celebrity, the same logon as used by the wireless is the same used in the internet center.

TV is quite limited. There are movies, but there was one international sports channel, BBC, MSNBC, and a Fox channel. No CNN or other channels.

The ship entered service, I believe, in 2004 and we had sailed on it in 2005. It has had some major refurbishment since then. Again, my complaint is the congestion in the small serving areas in Horizon Court buffet. But other than that, the ship is in good condition, plenty of entertainment options and dancing opportunities. The ship is one that still has the Skywalkers Lounge on deck 18, and they had a 2 hour limited reception with food and discounted drinks for Platinum Captains Circle member and above, and Suite guests. It is good to have quality ships doing shorter cruises in the Caribbean. An excellent value.

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Thanks for the great review, John! So glad you had a good cruise. It is nice to know that they do have quality ships for the short cruises. Congratulations to your daughter!

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