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We just returned from back to back Western/Eastern Caribbean cruises on the Caribbean Princess. With the snow at home forecasted to increase, like in much of the country, we decided to fly into Florida a couple of days early as not to miss the ship. We had sailed on the Caribbean Princess in 2007, and looked forward to boarding her again. Pre-Cruise We checked in at the Marriott Residence Inn at about 5:30 pm. When we got to the hotel, they recommended Rendezvous Bar and Grill as an “upscale” steakhouse. We took a shuttle to the restaurant with several other hotel guests. When we got there we were asked to wait a few minutes for a table. We ordered a drink at the bar and were promptly seated. When we looked at the menu, we realized it was not an “upscale” steakhouse, but a “lowerescale” bar and grill. Food was not bad, but certainly not what was expected. The total bar and food bill including tip was less than $30. Food was worth it, but certainly not an “upscale” steakhouse. We had the hotel van driver take us to Publix, a local grocery store, for bottled water and a couple of bottles of wine to take on the ship. After waiting about an hour to be picked up, we went to the hotel for the night until pick up the following morning. The accommodations were great and we slept well. Embarkation We left the hotel at 10:30 and headed to the port. We went right into the terminal and waited about 30 minutes until they begin boarding. We were able to go directly to the stateroom (E729) and stow our carry on items. As we went into the room, we were pleasantly surprised that it was as large as it was. The balcony was also a nice size. Stateroom The stateroom is large with two televisions, one on the bedroom side and the other on the living area side. The bathroom has a single sink vanity and a full bath and shower across from that. The closet is quite large with plenty of clothes and luggage storage. There is also a small safe in the closet for valuables. There is plenty of under bed storage for luggage as well. Dining We had fixed dining at 8:00 pm in the Palm dining room. The first night at dinner, we asked our waiter, Alfredo, if our wine could be served in Riedel wine glasses. He checked with the head waiter, and from then on, every evening the Riedel wine glasses were on our table awaiting our arrival. The food in dining room was okay, but not great. It was always served hot and most of the time to order, but not what we have experienced on other cruises. Room service was better than dinner in the dining room and always arrived hot and tasty. Some mornings we have breakfast on our balcony, but since there is a very limited menu, we more often than not, went to the dining room for breakfast as well. We also ate lunch in the dining room or had room service on sea days. We did not eat at the buffet. One morning we had the Breakfast Ultimate Dining Experience, and it was very good. This includes champagne, juices, eggs benedict, fruit, breads and quiche. Service Room steward, Joe, was awesome. He was efficient, and very attentive to our every need. Service at the bars and other areas of the ship were great. Our favorite hang out was Vines Wine Bar. Highly recommend this venue, as the wine is good, and the bar tenders were awesome and went above and beyond in everything they did. Complimentary Tapas and Sushi is also served with any drink ordered. Ports/Excursions Our first port was Cozumel. We did the Salsa and Margarita excursion that was planned through Princess. We took cabs to an area about 5 minutes from the ship, and two locals taught us how to make regular margaritas and strawberry margaritas, as well as six different kinds of salsa. (Red salsa, Salsa Verde, guacamole, Pico de Guido [sweet and spicy], and a dessert salsa). Another part of the excursion was to learn the Salsa dance. We left before that started, since neither of us were interested in learning. This excursion was very expensive for what you get, but entertaining. I would not necessarily recommend this, unless you just have money to burn. Our second port was Costa Maya. We had not planned an excursion for this port, so we easily found a taxi and paid $120 for them to take us to the Mayan ruins. It was actually really cool, but probably would not pay $120 again to do it. The cab had A/C, which was a must, as it is very hot here. Our last port was Grand Turk (this was the second cruise). This is one of the few beaches where the ship docks within feet of a beach. It’s almost like a private island, but it is not, and you don’t have to tender in. For those who want to swim, they just get off the ship, find a lounger, and jump in the water. We chose to take a cab into town for lunch. When we were here last, we had lunch at a small little restaurant on the water called The Sandbar. Unfortunately it is closed on Saturday's so we walked into a little place called The Secret Garden. You entered through someone’s house and into their back yard, where they had about 7 tables under a gazebo. The food was good, and certainly quaint. Nice day on Grand Turk. Between the Cruises As stated above, for us this cruise was not a 9 night, but a 5 night and 4 night back to back cruise. At the end of the first cruise, we were to be out of the room by 8:00 am, since we were changing cabins. Many of the 700 passengers that were on the back-to-back cruise chose to stay on board the ship in Fort Lauderdale instead of get off and then back on again. At about 11:00 am, those of us who stayed on were asked to gather in the Princess Theater, and they scanned our keys as if we were exiting the ship. Now that we were no longer passengers on the ship, no one could come or go without supervision of staff. While in the theater, some read and others just patiently waited to be released back "onto" the ship. The staff continued to give updates on the process of the sanitizing of the ship since some passengers had the Norovirus on the first cruise, and at about 1:00 pm, we were cleared to “enter” the ship. They scanned our new keys on the way back in, and we proceeded to the pool area to wait until our cabins were finished being sanitized. At about 2:00, we finally got into our cabin. Since we were at the last safety drill at the beginning of the first cruise, we did not have to go to this one, which was nice. As most other cruisers headed, life jackets in hand, to their muster stations, we were sitting at Vines Wine Bar visiting with the bartender that we had come to know. We finally set sail just after six o’clock. We sailed away from our balcony. Between cruises we changed from our first cabin to a new one, just next door (E731) This room’s balcony is very big, compared to our last one. It extends about 10 feet further back than the last one, doubling its size. Entertainment We did not go to any shows, but the steel drum and piano players were wonderful! Disembarkation We were to disembark at 9:30 and meet in the Palm Dining Room. We had a quick breakfast in the dining room, then at about 9:00 am, there was an announcement that all passengers could disembark at their leisure. We stood in Customs line for about 10 minutes then were on our way. Final Thoughts This all in all, was a nice cruise. We will probably not do back to back cruises again, as the menu is the same for both cruises, and we would rather book one cruise and have more variety in food, since the dining room food was adequate at best. With the Norovirus on both cruises, we did not want to venture to the buffet for a change. It was great to be out of the snow for a few days, but in the end, we had to pack our sandals, swimsuits and shorts, and bring out our sweaters and snow boots!

Nice Get-A-Way

Caribbean Princess Cruise Review by CORealtor

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: February 2015
  • Destination: Caribbean
We just returned from back to back Western/Eastern Caribbean cruises on the Caribbean Princess. With the snow at home forecasted to increase, like in much of the country, we decided to fly into Florida a couple of days early as not to miss the ship. We had sailed on the Caribbean Princess in 2007, and looked forward to boarding her again.

Pre-Cruise
We checked in at the Marriott Residence Inn at about 5:30 pm. When we got to the hotel, they recommended Rendezvous Bar and Grill as an “upscale” steakhouse. We took a shuttle to the restaurant with several other hotel guests. When we got there we were asked to wait a few minutes for a table. We ordered a drink at the bar and were promptly seated. When we looked at the menu, we realized it was not an “upscale” steakhouse, but a “lowerescale” bar and grill. Food was not bad, but certainly not what was expected. The total bar and food bill including tip was less than $30. Food was worth it, but certainly not an “upscale” steakhouse. We had the hotel van driver take us to Publix, a local grocery store, for bottled water and a couple of bottles of wine to take on the ship. After waiting about an hour to be picked up, we went to the hotel for the night until pick up the following morning. The accommodations were great and we slept well.

Embarkation
We left the hotel at 10:30 and headed to the port. We went right into the terminal and waited about 30 minutes until they begin boarding. We were able to go directly to the stateroom (E729) and stow our carry on items. As we went into the room, we were pleasantly surprised that it was as large as it was. The balcony was also a nice size.

Stateroom
The stateroom is large with two televisions, one on the bedroom side and the other on the living area side. The bathroom has a single sink vanity and a full bath and shower across from that. The closet is quite large with plenty of clothes and luggage storage. There is also a small safe in the closet for valuables. There is plenty of under bed storage for luggage as well.

Dining
We had fixed dining at 8:00 pm in the Palm dining room. The first night at dinner, we asked our waiter, Alfredo, if our wine could be served in Riedel wine glasses. He checked with the head waiter, and from then on, every evening the Riedel wine glasses were on our table awaiting our arrival. The food in dining room was okay, but not great. It was always served hot and most of the time to order, but not what we have experienced on other cruises. Room service was better than dinner in the dining room and always arrived hot and tasty. Some mornings we have breakfast on our balcony, but since there is a very limited menu, we more often than not, went to the dining room for breakfast as well. We also ate lunch in the dining room or had room service on sea days. We did not eat at the buffet. One morning we had the Breakfast Ultimate Dining Experience, and it was very good. This includes champagne, juices, eggs benedict, fruit, breads and quiche.

Service
Room steward, Joe, was awesome. He was efficient, and very attentive to our every need. Service at the bars and other areas of the ship were great. Our favorite hang out was Vines Wine Bar. Highly recommend this venue, as the wine is good, and the bar tenders were awesome and went above and beyond in everything they did. Complimentary Tapas and Sushi is also served with any drink ordered.

Ports/Excursions
Our first port was Cozumel. We did the Salsa and Margarita excursion that was planned through Princess. We took cabs to an area about 5 minutes from the ship, and two locals taught us how to make regular margaritas and strawberry margaritas, as well as six different kinds of salsa. (Red salsa, Salsa Verde, guacamole, Pico de Guido [sweet and spicy], and a dessert salsa). Another part of the excursion was to learn the Salsa dance. We left before that started, since neither of us were interested in learning. This excursion was very expensive for what you get, but entertaining. I would not necessarily recommend this, unless you just have money to burn.

Our second port was Costa Maya. We had not planned an excursion for this port, so we easily found a taxi and paid $120 for them to take us to the Mayan ruins. It was actually really cool, but probably would not pay $120 again to do it. The cab had A/C, which was a must, as it is very hot here.

Our last port was Grand Turk (this was the second cruise). This is one of the few beaches where the ship docks within feet of a beach. It’s almost like a private island, but it is not, and you don’t have to tender in. For those who want to swim, they just get off the ship, find a lounger, and jump in the water. We chose to take a cab into town for lunch. When we were here last, we had lunch at a small little restaurant on the water called The Sandbar. Unfortunately it is closed on Saturday's so we walked into a little place called The Secret Garden. You entered through someone’s house and into their back yard, where they had about 7 tables under a gazebo. The food was good, and certainly quaint. Nice day on Grand Turk.

Between the Cruises
As stated above, for us this cruise was not a 9 night, but a 5 night and 4 night back to back cruise. At the end of the first cruise, we were to be out of the room by 8:00 am, since we were changing cabins. Many of the 700 passengers that were on the back-to-back cruise chose to stay on board the ship in Fort Lauderdale instead of get off and then back on again. At about 11:00 am, those of us who stayed on were asked to gather in the Princess Theater, and they scanned our keys as if we were exiting the ship. Now that we were no longer passengers on the ship, no one could come or go without supervision of staff. While in the theater, some read and others just patiently waited to be released back "onto" the ship. The staff continued to give updates on the process of the sanitizing of the ship since some passengers had the Norovirus on the first cruise, and at about 1:00 pm, we were cleared to “enter” the ship. They scanned our new keys on the way back in, and we proceeded to the pool area to wait until our cabins were finished being sanitized. At about 2:00, we finally got into our cabin.

Since we were at the last safety drill at the beginning of the first cruise, we did not have to go to this one, which was nice. As most other cruisers headed, life jackets in hand, to their muster stations, we were sitting at Vines Wine Bar visiting with the bartender that we had come to know.

We finally set sail just after six o’clock. We sailed away from our balcony. Between cruises we changed from our first cabin to a new one, just next door (E731) This room’s balcony is very big, compared to our last one. It extends about 10 feet further back than the last one, doubling its size.

Entertainment
We did not go to any shows, but the steel drum and piano players were wonderful!

Disembarkation
We were to disembark at 9:30 and meet in the Palm Dining Room. We had a quick breakfast in the dining room, then at about 9:00 am, there was an announcement that all passengers could disembark at their leisure. We stood in Customs line for about 10 minutes then were on our way.

Final Thoughts
This all in all, was a nice cruise. We will probably not do back to back cruises again, as the menu is the same for both cruises, and we would rather book one cruise and have more variety in food, since the dining room food was adequate at best. With the Norovirus on both cruises, we did not want to venture to the buffet for a change.

It was great to be out of the snow for a few days, but in the end, we had to pack our sandals, swimsuits and shorts, and bring out our sweaters and snow boots!
CORealtor’s Full Rating Summary
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
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Cabin Review

Cabin E729 and E7
E729 - The stateroom is large with two televisions, one on the bedroom side and the other on the living area side. The bathroom has a single sink vanity and a full bath and shower across from that. The closet is quite large with plenty of clothes and luggage storage. There is also a small safe in the closet for valuables. There is plenty of under bed storage for luggage as well.

E731 -The stateroom is like the one above, but this room’s balcony is very big in comparison. It extends about 10 feet further back than the last one, doubling its size.
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