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Princess Cruises: Caribbean Princess

  • Andy Newman / Princess Cruises

Caribbean Princess Review

Insider Take

Best For People Who Want

Roomy Princess cruise ships with ample choices for alternative dining, wide-ranging fitness programs; true onboard weddings as well as vow renewal; programs for children of all ages, tweens and teens; balcony cabins; lots of nightlife choices, extensive golf and snorkeling programs.

Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer

A more personalized cruise experience on a smaller ship, world-class cuisine.

Decor

Unlike the theme park atmosphere of some other cruise lines, these Grand-class Princess ships decor bestows a refined, understatedly elegant atmosphere, with hand-painted murals and etched glass partitions in the dining rooms. Little apparent expense was spared on materials, with rich fabrics, beautiful woods, and marble everywhere, all topped of with a $2 million art collection aboard each ship. The cabins are tastefully decorated in soft, inoffensive shades - beiges, creams and muted pinks.

Public Rooms

The Club Fusion Showlounge, replacing the Vista Lounge, now has slot machines thrown in and presents production shows, cabaret, comedians and magicians. At night it doubles for a secondary disco for those who get light-headed scaling the heights to Skywalkers.

Skywalkers, the real disco, is suspended between two pillars protruding high above the stern, fully 18 stories above sea level. The moving sidewalk you ride up to Skywalkers is one of the most breathtaking views on any ship, and one that many passengers probably never discover.

As with all Princess ships, you will quickly find the Wheelhouse Bar and the Explorers' Lounge offering cabaret, trivia competitions, art auctions, and pre-dinner dancing. Churchill's Lounge, the one-time sports bar, is now behind the casino and is used for the cognac and cigars set. The sports paraphernalia is still there, but seems oddly out of place.

The main gathering spot, the maple-paneled atrium paneled, has boutiques, cafes and public rooms on each of its three levels, all connected by a circular glass staircase. A string quartet adds to the airy ambiance. The gigantic Casino contains some 285 slot machines and gaming tables beyond counting. You can view live sports on ESPN in the Sports Bar, or recline in leather chairs while perusing any of hundreds of books in the beautiful library.

The Internet room on these Grand-class ships do not qualify as "cafes" as there are no cafe-style treats available. Even worse, there is no tech support and if you can find the printer you may have to fix your settings on your computer to make it work yourself. The connection is generally slow and inconsistent. Sadly, these are some of the worst, and most under-utilized, Internet centers at sea.

Restaurants

The three principal restaurants, Island, Coral and Palm Dining Rooms, seating just over 500 passengers, feature hand-painted murals and etched-glass partitions. The drapes and carpeting in the main dining areas absorb sound efficiently enough to preclude diners having to holler across the table to one another.

Personal Choice Dining offers either traditional cruise dining (In the Amalfi), with a set seating time (6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.) and the same waiter and tablemates each evening, or new restaurant-style seating, allowing passengers to dine when and with whom they choose, with each party seated at its own table, as at a restaurant ashore (offered in the other two dining rooms). Restaurant-style diners may be seated in either of the two elegant main dining rooms any time between 5:30 and midnight. Many passengers are understandably grateful for this reprieve from having to hurry to dress for dinner in the traditional way after a long day ashore.

Sabatini's, (surcharge $20 per person) described above, seats 100, the Sterling Steakhouse features Angus beef and other grilled red meats (surcharge $15 per person). The Horizon Court is open 24 hours per day, with menu service at night, plus casual breakfast and luncheon buffet. There's also a festive pizzeria. For $100 per couple, you can book the Ultimate Balcony Dinner, to be served by a butler who discreetly makes himself scarce behind drapes or out in the hall between courses. The ship's photographer snaps a complimentary photo while you're eating.

At night, the Horizon Court restaurant is transformed into Cafe Caribe, serving up (what else?) Caribbean inspired cuisine with full waiter service at fully set tables.

Service

While Princess has a well-deserved reputation for good service securely footed in its British roots, truly personalized service may be too much to expect on a ship this size. That noted, cabin stewards and waiters are both efficient and personable. And rote processes that should be standardized and well executed on other ships but often fail miserably, such as efficient disembarkation, are generally practiced and polished to the point of excellence here.

Tipping

A charge of $10 per person per day (including children) is automatically added to your stateroom account for dining and stateroom personnel. This applies to all passengers, adult and child alike, whether or not they choose traditional or personal choice dining. The amount may be increased or lowered at the Purser's Reception desk during the cruise.

A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to all beverage tabs. Gratuities for spa, casino and other staff are at your discretion.

Fitness/Spa

It is rare to find such ample fitness facilities. The four pools, including a "swim-against-the-current" lap pool, are uniformly gorgeous, thanks in no small part to colorful mosaics and surrounding palm trees. Low marks, though, to whoever decided to put the separate jogging track right above the spa, as the relentless thundering of hooves overhead isn't terribly conducive to one's enjoying her massage or beauty treatment. Even though prices are substantially higher than ashore, spa services are very popular, especially in the afternoon. You'll occasionally have to stand in line for some of the more popular workout apparatuses in the gym. There's a golf simulator and 9-hole putting green, and courts for basketball, volleyball or tennis.

Attire

Seven- to 14-night cruises offer two opportunities to put on the Ritz in formal attire. Many men opt for dark suit instead of tux, while their distaff companions often prefer dressy pants to gowns. The rest of the time, think smart casual.

Onboard Experience

Caribbean Princess entered service in 2004, the final sister ship to the 2,600-passenger Grand Princess presented in 1998, once the biggest cruise ship at sea, though that didn't last for long. Caribbean Princess comes in at a heftier 113,00-tons and carries about 410 more passengers at a capacity of 3100. Still, the Carnival Conquest class at 110,000 tons, for example, can carry close to 3400 passengers. This means that the space per passenger ratio on these ships, though not as ideal as her sister ships, results in lounges, theaters and dining rooms that are all intimate enough to make passengers forget they are aboard a megaliner.

Thanks to shrewd layout, multiple dining venues, four expansive outdoor deck areas (1.7 acres!), multiple sports facilities, four pools, and nine hot tubs, passengers are rarely concentrated in any one area. Meanwhile, the mega-ship amenities included for those who can never get enough dining, entertainment, and fitness choices, means the Princess ships of this class make the best of everything for ships in this size and price range. Their programs for younger passengers are exemplary, and their Lido buffet dining spot is open around the clock.

Caribbean Princess was the first Princess ship to offer "Movies Under the Stars," a huge flat panel projection screen showing near first-run films outdoors next to the pool. This was such a hit that the concept has been spread to other large Princess ships sailing in the Caribbean. They recently started handing out headphones to viewers to alleviate complaints from nearby cabins.

Having offered the first wedding chapel at sea (with the Captain doing the honors) on Grand Princess, Caribbean Princess now also features a complete professional digital photography studio in the F/X Digital Photo Center for those all-important wedding photos. The medical center is one of the most advanced at sea, the first to offer real-time teleconferencing support from a leading national cardiac care center in the United States.

The most incongruous factor about these mega-ships is that the public rooms aren't much bigger than those on much smaller ships, and there are surprisingly few bars and lounges for a ship this size. The one head-scratcher to the design is the compromised privacy of many balconies that extend out far enough from the ship that people from several decks above can look right down into your "private" enclave. From the Baja Deck, for instance, you can watch other passengers on their Caribe and Dolphin Deck balconies. Caribe occupants can in turn observe their counterparts on the Dolphin Deck.

Cuisine

What can you say about a ship that offers three main dining rooms instead of the usual multi-tiered, bigger than life one? They are more intimate and definitely quieter, but like the Princess "included in the cruise fare" cuisine, they are not likely to elicit a "wow" response either. These main dining rooms predictably offer Princess' Continental-style cuisine unlikely to win any culinary awards, but also elicit few complaints. For gourmet dining, try the alternative option, refined but not snooty, Sabatini's Trattoria for a wonderful selection of Italian antipasti, complemented with such garnishes as Sevruga caviar, delicious pizza, homemade pastas, soups and breads. Salads are tossed before your very eyes, and soup ladled into fresh bread bowls. Seafood predominates on the list of main courses; there are lobster, langoustines, tiger prawns, Chilean sea bass and scallops, with red meat dishes also on offer. Save room for the exquisite Italian pastries that will be wheeled before you toward meal's end.

Entertainment

With a dozen or so venues for nightlife, you're virtually assured of finding something that floats your boat, to coin a phrase. There's no faulting the lavishness of the production shows, which feature extravagant special effects. The performers in the cabaret are a talented bunch.

Cabins

Cabins are built out from the body of the ship so as to permit bigger staterooms. Seven hundred ten of the 1300 staterooms have balconies, ranging up to 257 sq. feet, but they're not very private, as they're in plain view of the occupants of the cabin on the next deck up. Standard inside staterooms are 160 sq. ft., while outside cabins range from 168 to 210 sq. feet. Closet space is minimal except in the suites; leave some things home! Mini-suites with private verandas are 325 sq. feet. Vista Suites, called mini-suites on other Princess ships, range from 515 to 800 sq. feet. Sun and Dawn Princess offer larger minisuites for less money.

All staterooms have color TV with CNN and movies, a radio and small refrigerator, and spacious bathrooms with storage space and hair dryers.




Ship Overview

Christened in 2004, Caribbean Princess follows Princess Cruises’ plan of "evolution" not "revolution" in ship design. She is very much a ship in the Grand-class mold, but one that introduced the successful Movies Under the Stars with a huge poolside screen. Caribbean Princess has been upgraded with signature elements such as the adults-only haven The Sanctuary and street performances in the Italian-inspired piazza-style atrium.

With dramatic atriums and Skywalker's Nightclub (the spoiler hovering 150 feet above the stern), Caribbean Princess is a supersize version of the older Grand-class vessels with an extra deck of passenger accommodations. Not quite identical to Caribbean Princess, the younger ships in the class, Crown, Emerald, and Ruby Princess have introduced more dining options. Several signature public spaces have been redesigned or relocated on these ships as well—the atrium on Crown, Emerald, and Ruby Princess resembles an open piazza and sidewalk café; Sabatini's Italian Trattoria is found on a top deck with views on three sides and alfresco dining; and Skywalker's Disco is forward near the funnel (where it's topped with a sports court). Inside spaces on all three vessels are quietly neutral, with touches of glamour in the sweeping staircases and marble-floor atriums. Surprising intimacy is achieved by the number of public rooms and restaurants that swallow up passengers.

Princess Cruises may be best known for introducing cruise travel to millions of viewers, when its flagship became the setting for The Love Boat television series in 1977. Since that heady time of small-screen stardom, the Princess fleet has grown both in the number and size of ships. Although most are large in scale, Princess vessels manage to create the illusion of intimacy through the use of color and decor in understated yet lovely public rooms graced by multimillion-dollar art collections.

Princess has also become more flexible; Personal Choice Cruising offers alternatives for open seating dining (when you wish and with whom you please) and entertainment options as diverse as those found in resorts ashore.

Lovely chapels or the wide-open decks are romantic settings for weddings at sea with the captain officiating.

What You Should Know

Pros

  • Movies Under the Stars on the huge poolside screen have proven to be a big hit
  • The Wheelhouse Bar serves complimentary pub lunch at noon
  • The adults-only Sanctuary is a private deck with posh loungers for a fee

Cons

  • Priority dining reservations are extended only to Elite Captain's Circle members
  • The terrace overlooking the aft pool is a quiet spot after dark, but the nearest bar often closes early
  • Opt for Anytime Dining and you may encounter a wait for a table
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 1,200
  • Entered Service 2004
  • Gross Tons 113,000
  • Length 951 feet
  • Number of Cabins 1,557
  • Passenger Capacity 3,080
  • Width 118 feet
  • Service

  • Food

  • Décor

  • Value

Mar 1, 2017

Review of Caribbean Princess

Dave Augustine Age: 66 Occupation:Retired Number of Cruises: 12 Cruise Line: Princess Ship: Caribbean Princess Sailing Date: 2016-03-10 Itinerary: Western Caribbean 5/10/16 My wife and I embarked on a 10 day cruise on the Caribbean Princess on March 20. 2016. We were very happy with the entire cruise experience – good food, good accommodations and friendly staff. The problem started when we had disembarked and realized a short while later that

we had left several zip lock bags of jewelry on the closet shelf of our stateroom. The contents of the bags included watches valued at over $200, James Avery bracelets valued at over $200, and numerous other necklaces bracelets and earrings. The most important valuable piece was a diamond ring valued at $4900. We immediately contacted Princess to tell them about our loss and they advised us that we would be required to submit a lost and found form and that it would be 4-6 weeks until our goods would be returned. We immediately submitted the form along with the appraisal for the ring and waited impatiently for the response. On May 10, 2016 we were advised by email that Princess had recovered our missing jewelry. They sent a picture of the recovered items and SURPISE! Everything was there except for the $4900 ring. A subsequent phone call to Princess Cruise Lines yielded no satisfaction. I asked if they were going to investigate to see who the thief was. Response was a curt “No”. I asked if there was a documented chain of custody for our items. Again “No”. I asked if there would be any compensation for our loss since it was obviously stolen by one of their employees. Once again “No”. The rude lady that I spoke with at their lost and found department was very insistent that Princess is not responsible for loss. I understand that position, but I at least expected them to give a damn, take corrective action within their company, and maybe offer some level of compensation in cruise credit. THEY DON’T CARE! You can be assured we will NEVER cruise with Princess again, and I would advise you to avoid them along with ALL of the “Carnival Group” which includes Carnival, Cunard, Seabourn, Holland America, Costa, Aida.

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  • New

May 10, 2016

Western Caribbean

5/10/16 My wife and I embarked on a 10 day cruise on the Caribbean Princess on March 20. 2016. We were very happy with the entire cruise experience – good food, good accommodations and friendly staff. The problem started when we had disembarked and realized a short while later that we had left several zip lock bags of jewelry on the closet shelf of our stateroom. The contents of the bags included watches valued at over $200, James Avery bracelets

valued at over $200, and numerous other necklaces bracelets and earrings. The most important valuable piece was a diamond ring valued at $4900. We immediately contacted Princess to tell them about our loss and they advised us that we would be required to submit a lost and found form and that it would be 4-6 weeks until our goods would be returned. We immediately submitted the form along with the appraisal for the ring and waited impatiently for the response. On May 10, 2016 we were advised by email that Princess had recovered our missing jewelry. They sent a picture of the recovered items and SURPISE! Everything was there except for the $4900 ring. A subsequent phone call to Princess Cruise Lines yielded no satisfaction. I asked if they were going to investigate to see who the thief was. Response was a curt “No”. I asked if there was a documented chain of custody for our items. Again “No”. I asked if there would be any compensation for our loss since it was obviously stolen by one of their employees. Once again “No”. The rude lady that I spoke with at their lost and found department was very insistent that Princess is not responsible for loss. I understand that position, but I at least expected them to give a damn, take corrective action within their company, and maybe offer some level of compensation in cruise credit. THEY DON’T CARE! You can be assured we will NEVER cruise with Princess again, and I would advise you to avoid them along with ALL of the “Carnival Group” which includes Carnival, Cunard, Seabourn, Holland America, Costa, Aida.

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Mar 7, 2016

Western and Eastern Caribbean

My husband and I have been on 13 cruises on two different cruise lines. We decided on this cruise due to itinerary only. This was the first time we were on a Princess Cruise -- Western and Eastern Caribbean. On the first day, we had a flood in the cabin. Water backed up. This never happened to us before. It was fixed in one day. We received 5 pieces of fudge for our inconvenience. On other cruises if there was a problem, they sent a bottle of

wine. This ship was very disorganized. It took me the first week to know where I was going and not getting turned around. The crew for the most part was courteous. At the main desk, when reporting the water problem, I got a curt answer. Also, at the excursion counter, I got a curt answer when they were slow with long line waiting and one one person working the desk. The ship needs some refurbishing, especially the cabin we were in. The last week of the cruise, they decided to replace the double door to the pool on Lido, Deck 15. There was plywood when you got off the elevators which was a huge inconvenience. They were working on it for days. Also, the elevators were constantly under maintenance so we could not use them. Toward the end of the cruise on Deck 6, the bathrooms were not working. The food was great in the Coral Dining Room. The main waiter and junior waiter were wonderful as well as the Mat'er De -- no problems there. Embarkment was good -- got on the ship in 20 minutes. Getting off the ship was not good. We were not given good directions regarding leaving the ship -- only where to meet and when. Many people brought their carry on luggage and had to drag them up or down stairs or take elevators when it was time for them to leave the ship. Not good for the disabled people for sure. We will never take another Princess cruise again.

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Jan 12, 2016

Caribbean

We have cruised 20+ times on five cruise lines. This review is for our fourth Princess Cruise on 11-29-15 but it is the first time I have ever provided a review. Our cruise was delayed one day leaving Houston one day due to fog in the Houston ship channel. Princess Cruise Lines cannot be faulted for that. Our 6 days on the ship was very good. Princess Corporate was MUCH less professional about how the one-day delay was communicated to passengers

and how the resulting change of the ships itinerary was handled. We were not told until we were onboard IN THE MUSTER DRILL at 3:45 pm that the ship would NOT be going to Grand Cayman. No way that itinerary change would not have been known and approved by Princess Corporate well prior to leaving the dock. Common sense tells me that it could ONLY have been intentional that we were not told until after the ship left the dock and was underway. We immediately went to the Customer Service desk to try to get OFF the ship but after waiting in a LONG line it was too late to disembark. There were LOTS of outraged passengers like us who had no interest in going to Belize. Princess credited passengers pro-rata for the one day shorter cruise but NOT for the significant difference in the itinerary. We SPECIFICALLY booked this cruise to go to Grand Cayman. We were not interested in going to Belize (which is a run that the Caribbean Princess frequently makes) or we would have booked one of those cruises. The dining room food was good; the Italian specialty restaurant food was excellent. The specialty steak house was good but not excellent. Our inside cabin was well laid-out with plenty of hanging storage separated from the bed area- much better than Carnival Dream, Magic or the older Carnival ships. Cable television did not include some of the NFL games we expected to be available. The plotting detail of the ships course on the TV was very poor compared to other cruise lines. The ships location did not often show the ships relation to where the ship had been or how far to where the ship was headed. Good. We do not gamble. The  production was one of the two best shows I've ever seen on a cruise. The other was the Texas Tenors (the $1million dollar winners of one of the TV talent contests) on Royal Caribbean. On the Caribbean Princess the band "Lots of Fun" from (Russia?) was excellent with strong voices, good range of music. The piano player in the piano bar was just OK - he certainly was not up to the standard of Bert Stratton whom we enjoyed on the same ship in April 2014. If you walk daily for exercise deck 7 is narrow and has stairs but it is about the only wind-protected option We've been to Belize before. After the fist time there we now don't bother getting off the ship since it is a tender port. We felt that the excursions were well over-priced. Princess corporate in California was NOT professional about EITHER notifying passengers directly (on Sunday or Monday) by not having information available for passengers to call to get a recorded update. Further I am confident that Princess Corporate in California for KNEW sometime on MONDAY (possibly even on Sunday) that the itinerary would be changed. Princess Corporate did finally contact me on Thursday 1-7 after being promised that I would receive a call within 2 business days of my cruise feedback provided to them on December 9th and after my follow-up emails. Unfortunately, Princess corporate expressed only lip service to being interested in their lack of communication to passengers or acting to improve customer relations. They were worthless.

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Jan 3, 2015

three nights

Princess Cruises has always been synonymous with providing a premier experience with excellent service. It turns out this is just a farce. My husband and I were extremely disappointed by our recent experience aboard the Caribbean Princess. From the very moment we boarded the ship until the time we got off, we had perfunctory service at best by staff who barely acknowledged our existence and were not equipped to answer basic questions, such as where

to make dinner reservations and how to check-in for a bungalow we rented on Princess Cays. While doing the muster drill, staff were extremely rude not even a smile or eye contact. At Princess Cays, we wasted well over a half-hour and were extremely frustrated by the time we got to our bungalow because our tickets said to check-in at the watersports area, which like all lines during the duration of our trip was long. When we asked several staff members where to go, none were able to guide us in the right direction. In fact, as we approached one female employee in particular, we were made to feel as if we were an extreme inconvenience. Not to mention, an employee, who appeared to be a manager, walked into our bungalow without saying a word to my husband and I as we sat directly in front of the cabana. My husband asked the manager if he could help him and in response the manager said he was checking to see what needed to be cleaned (at 1:30 p.m.) and even got defensive. Food also was a big disappointment, although we did have much better service in the specialty restaurants. Suffice to say, we will never book a Princess Cruise again and caution anyone else who has a similar perception about the cruise company's service. Just okay Fine and spacious N/A N/A Bad service experience. Will not book Princess ever again!

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