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Princess Preferred: A Review of the Caribbean Princess

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May 10th, 2015, 09:06 AM
  #1
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Join Date: Feb 2014
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Princess Preferred: A Review of the Caribbean Princess

From the Norman Love truffle pops at the Welcome Toast to the restaurant-like beverage service in the buffet, Princess is filled with surprises that make it my favorite among the mass market cruise lines.

It won’t blow you away with bumper cars or carousels, but what it does deliver is consistently solid service, attention to detail and an eagerness to please.

The recent trip on the Caribbean Princess, our fourth on the line, proved to be as good as the first. With many of the lines noticeably scaling back, Princess is an exception. Here’s some of what made it special:

Ship shape. Princess’ mini-suite is ideal for those who want more space but not at a suite price. It’s essentially the size of a hotel room with two flat screen TVs, a full-sized couch, large counter, and porch furniture featuring reclining chairs, foot stools and a large table. The closets in the mini-suites—as well as the balcony rooms—are the largest we’ve had on any cruise line, and can accommodate three hanging shoe bags, along with a whole lot of clothes.

The staterooms—as well as the public rooms—were immaculate. You’d really have to look hard to find any evidence that the ship was built 11 years ago.

The piazza, the hub of ship activity, this trip featured a pianist, a we-can-play-just-about-anything band and singer, steel drums and a former circus performer who twirled lighted hoops in a blaze of color and grace.

The only downside to the handsome piazza is that it can’t always accommodate everyone who wants to be there. Getting a good enough view to take photos of the Mardi Gras party or a seat to eat your International Café quiche can sometimes be all but impossible.

Food; themed and otherwise. Speaking of food, it ranged from fair to good, in both the Main Dining Room and Horizon Court buffet. One innovation in the MDR was Caribbean cuisine, a welcome reminder of where we were. And it was nice to see lobster tail still on the formal night menu.

Horizon Court themed nights were a lot of fun and we found ourselves there more than the MDR. German night was alight with a color-changing, larger-than-life beer stein (in ice, not on ice), landjagger bites and German hams, pretzel rolls, red cabbage, sausages, and linzer and sacher tortes. Italian night, with its gondolier-costumed waiters, served up prosciutto and hunks of parmesan, fennel au gratin and pasta many ways.

The bakery stuff is where Princess really excels. The breads are great—from the sunflower-studded rolls to the cheese-topped croissants to the onion-infused focaccia. The chocolate desserts were excellent, rivaling some of the best bakeries on land.

The ship was as generous with its buffet hours as it was with the food offerings. You can get breakfast until 11:30, lunch until 3:30 (if you miss this, there’s “afternoon snack” from 3:30-5:30, which is a scaled down lunch), and full dinner is available until 11. Late dining was an especially mellow meal, just us, a few other night owls and the crew.

Fun and games. While standard fare, the entertainment was generally good; highlights were a juggler/comedian whose not-G-rated shtick brought on belly laughs, and a magician/comedian with same-but-different sleight-of-hand tricks and fast wit.

In fact, everyone seemed to be a comedian on this trip—including the cruise director, Paul Chandler-Burns. The Brit’s quips shot out like sparks—in an understated, under-the-breath sort of way—and made him the ideal emcee. His banter during the “The Marriage Match Game Show” made it easily one of the best we’ve seen on any ship.

There were several themed parties, the most memorable was the “Love Boat Disco Deck Party” held by the pool. The ship’s singers and dancers, dressed officer-like in white pants suits and captain hats, did the hustle and other moves, while the Movie Under the Stars screen revived scenes from the TV show, interspersing its octogenarian cast members somewhat disconcertedly jiving to a disco beat.

Well served. Service onboard was attentive from the room steward to the well-orchestrated disembarkation. Ironically, some of the best service we had was in the buffet. One night, I was asked by three different waiters within 10 minutes if I wanted any water or coffee.

With the generous room space, great service, varied entertainment with plenty of laughs, satisfying food sprinkled with surprises, and four good Western Caribbean ports (seven days of sun didn’t hurt either), we felt gloriously pampered from ship to shore. And felt that Princess did its best—and succeeded—in helping us “come back new.” - musingaboutcruising.blogspot.com.
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May 10th, 2015, 09:17 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,090
That's good to hear . We will be taking our sixth princess cruise next February and I just got off our first Norwegian Cruise line cruise on the getaway . We enjoyed it and we would go back but it's a notch below the service that we've gotten on princess and celebrity . I think their employees are better trained to provide this extra level of service .
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May 10th, 2015, 09:32 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 8,721
Caribbean Princess was our first cruise ship and still stands out as our favorite, over all, especially for layout of the ship and service.

Do think buffet food on Epic was better.

Shows on MSC Divina were best.
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May 10th, 2015, 09:53 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2,687
We too echo your comments. They don't seem to do anything particularly well (over everyone else), but they don't do anything particularly bad that makes you dislike them. Best way to describe is that they are consistent and seldom, if any, nasty surprises.

We have probably cruised Princess the most among all the lines as DW likes them. I asked her why she likes Princess better than anyone else and she can't give me a solid reason. The best she could mutter was "comfortable"; she probably meant "comforting" and familiarity with the ship and feel comfortable in the environment. The extra perks didn't hurt either.

Funny thing is that we have not been on a Princess Ship since Jan 2014 which is a very long time. For whatever reason, we have not been able to get the right itinerary at the right time from them recently.

Thanks for the TR as it is reassuring that things have not changed with them and when we sat foot on their ships again, it will be just like "old time".
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