Caribbean Princess Cruise Review by LGD
- Sail Date: July 2019
- Destination: Canada & New England
- Cabin Type: Balcony
We've cruised w Princess before and DH was not impressed with the food, about 5 years ago. However on this cruise, dinner was delightful each evening. We had My Time Dining and made reservations each day, always requesting Table 210 for 4# in the Island MDR. We landed at this table on Day 1, and the server, Viktoria R, was the absolute best waiter we have experienced on the seas. Attention to detail, recommendations were spot on for each of us, friendly, professional - she didn't miss a beat. We had 2 nights when our reservation was moved to another MDR, when we showed up, we were instructed to go elsewhere - which was a pain and no explanation was provided by the HW or host in the Island and when we arrived upstairs, that dining room team was confused as to why tables were being sent to them. After 2 nights of chaos, the reservation returned to table 210# and all was right in the world, at least for dinner. Memorable food - the prime rib, early in the cruise was outstanding, honey mustard dressing was raved about at the table, and a chocolate dessert - with cookies and ice cream was the bomb, but each night dinner at table 210# was a treat and no complaints from our foodies.
Now back to the review - after we booked, we learned about the new Medallions - registering online was difficult to take the photo, upload and the scan the passport, but we managed. A lot of passengers complained about the whole process. The biggest pain was poor communication about when to expect the Medallion to arrive. We completed all steps over 30 days prior to sail, and waited. No update. Finally about 10 days out the system indicated the Medallion was on the way, only to change the next morning online to unable to ship, not sufficient time to process and mail. I was terribly disappointed and resigned to picking it up at the port. Then one night, about 5 days before we departed, Fed Ex dropped off a small box, even though the status had no change. Packaging was nice, represented the company and new initiative well. It included a carry case and lanyard without any upcharge. We were set. Then 48 hours before we traveled, I got the email indicating the Medallion was on its way - by then it was already packed in my carry on.
Port Everglades is a favorite for embarkation, I just find it easy. This day, Princess was working out of a different terminal because of a Navy ship being commissioned. Staff kept apologizing for slow internet speed to get us processed which was unnecessary. We got to the port about 10:30, after an overnight at the Courtyard FLL airport and comp cruise port shuttle. We sped through security and check in - then got to sit in a general waiting room until our group number (4) was called. We have no loyalty status (Gold) so we were with the masses, with the Elites pulled out to wait elsewhere. It wasn't crowded and after 30 minutes or so, it was time to board, a little after 11. We went straight to our cabin, which was ready, to drop luggage, then off to the buffet for lunch. The buffet are had plenty of room and we found a table. Food was typical buffet, which was expected. Afterward, we returned to our balcony for sail away, our checked luggage was there to unpack and then it was time for the muster talk/video/demonstration, for us in the casino.
Cabin - Deck 14 309 Balcony. Our cabin steward, Pablo, was hard working and attentive. When the balcony divider door basically was falling off, he saw it before we did and had the maintenance team in there to fix it. If he was asked for something once, he remembered it each day, such as extra washcloths in the bathroom. I have only praise for him and appreciated his service. The cabin was a typical balcony cabin, average size, 2 chairs on the balcony, no footstool which was ridiculous, even though I requested it on their 'check in' status card sent to us about Day 3. King bed that was super comfortable, desk/chair and the famous barrel chair, but no sofa. There was an empty fridge, a former mini bar, that took 24 hours to cool bottled water, but it kept everything cool for the trip once it cooled down, and my expectation was lowered. We had a side/by/side balcony with our family and maintenance did open to divider early on Day 1. (but about Day 7, it was ready to fall off the hinge) . This divider is wonky and really in the way when opened. On other ships our experience has been the divider folds flat and secures, this one only opened about 45 degrees and required us to position a deck chair to keep it from slamming as we sailed. Our balcony had a cover which was nice for us. However, our neighbors in 14-311 had excessive noise from above - and at times we could hear it too - from sliding chairs on the pool deck to stomping feet, even though there was a cabin above us, the noise from the pool deck was awful. We will never do another cabin under the pool deck regardless if cabins are above. Imagine, the pool deck starts early, before 6 am with set up, and doesn't die out until at least midnight each evening.
Ship itself is dated, limited entertainment, but the bands and production shows are good - but it is not the glory days of cruising. We didn't expect it to be, so we were not disappointed. This cruise is about the ports, and little evening activity occurs. We were ok with it, and enjoyed our balcony most evenings after dinner.
Ports for us were intense - we walk a lot and did over 5 miles in NYC, Boston and Quebec, with 3 miles on average in other ports. Since we had been there before, we had a plan on what we wanted to do. Weather was perfect, mid to upper 80's in Charleston, NYC and Boston, others were upper 70s to low 80s, low humidity. Rain only briefly in NYC as we ferried to the ship and again on Day 1 in Quebec, but we had ponchos and it only lasted a couple of hours.
This was our port focus:
Charleston - easy, walkable port. We walked through the historic district and market area. There is a grocery about 4 blocks from the ship - so we stocked up on flavored coffee creamer. The shuttle around town is free - so we rode the loop twice and used it as a hop on/off without the cost. In the past we have visited the Aircraft Carrier and Medal of Honor Museum (awesome) and the Tea Plantation - another fun excursion.
NYC - the ship docks in Brooklyn and the ferry terminal is less than a 1/2 block from the terminal. We took a ferry to lower Manhattan and transferred to another ferry to midtown. We visited Times Square, took the subway to lower Manhattan, and then ferried back to the ship. If the rain had not impacted, we had planned to walk the Brooklyn Bridge. The rain was actually a thunderstorm and we got back to the terminal before the major downpour. Tip - buy your ferry ticket in advance via the Red Hook app. It will save you line time. Cost is less than $3 each way, with free transfers. We've been to Manhattan numerous times - so we didn't go to the 9/11 Memorial/Museum or other must see stops on the island.
Newport RI - a jewel. After an uneventful tender (we didn't try to get off with the masses, but waited about 45 minutes and had no wait; understand those who waited until 1030 or so, had a LONG wait for a tender), we walked a couple of blocks to the visitor's center, got a lay of the land, reviewed tour options (you can buy the mansion tix and other tours there) and decided to take the public bus for $2 out to the cliff walk and mansions. We had a delightful day there. The bus system was terrific.
Boston - we wanted to see the USS Constitution, so we took a city bus out there and walked the Freedom Trail back through the North End to Quincy Market. The Holocaust Memorial is not to be missed. While we have been to Boston several times and don't always do the same things, we always walk through the Memorial. It right by Quincy Market. We took a public bus back to the port ($2, paid onboard) and then walked about 3 blocks to the ship.
Bar Harbor ME - our favorite NE port. Another tender with no complaints. The ship team executed a new wait plan flawlessly - everyone into a MDR with a ticket - then called ticket numbers in bulk to move toward a tender. Everyone had a seat while we waited. This day we went to Acadia NP and took the Island Explorer to get there (free). This public bus is a 6 block walk up the hill from the tender port. You catch it at the Village Green. Their team is there, and readily helps to navigate the various bus routes - we did 3 separate routes inside the park (all free, donations accepted) to tour a large loop in hop on/off fashion - views are amazing. The buses run about every 15-20 mins and you catch the route desired. Google their website for details and map planning in advance. We had reservations for lunch at the Jordan Pond House - a delightful table on the lawn for popovers, blueberry lemonade and amazing views. A hike around the pond afterward made the afternoon. It was then back to Bar Harbor for souvenir shopping back down the hill to the tender. A great day.
Halifax - it's been almost 10 years since we visited Halifax. The port area has grown with housing and retail / restaurants in a 10-12 block area. Wow! This port has an extensive dedicated inside craft/souvenir market. We rented a car with Hertz, their location is less that a block from the port. We drove out to Peggy's Cove - it was terribly crowded due to a national holiday, but we had no problem parking and walked around the community. A lovely spot on earth. Afterward we drove back a different route, with breathtaking lakes and quaint towns. We stopped at the Swiss Air Memorial - just beyond the Peggy's Cove turn off - and then stopped at Fairlawn Cemetery where a lot of Titanic victims are buried. We ended the day at the Citadel, then returned the car and walked back to the ship. A great day.
St John - it was Sunday and a national holiday weekend - we arrived early morning, but limited retail was open. We've seen the reversing rapids in the past, so we walked to the Market - and waited for it to open at 11. Afterward we walk around town for a bit, then back to the terminal - with a smaller, tented vendor area and free WiFi with tables and chairs for comfort. The last time we were in SJNB - the wind was unbelievable, to the point we could barely walk. Thankfully, the wind was a breeze on this visit.
Sydney - we walked around the town - it was a Tuesday, but other than the port vendors, it is a quiet town. We visited a lovely church and enjoyed a history lesson there. Free WiFi in the terminal - with big round tables of passengers sitting together, but everyone was looking at their phones. In Sydney, there is a coal mine museum and tour - and if you are lucky their chorus will have a concert - look for this tour.
Quebec - another favorite - Day 1 we walked around the old city - upper and lower - visited Parliament Building - amazing! Then over to the Citadel and Park, then 600+ steps and 5 miles later we were down in the lower area again. Such a fun day, even with ponchos the first couple of hours. Day 2 were disembarked - a taxi up to the Hilton to pick up another rental car with Avis. They reimbursed for the taxi fare. Note - the port is extremely organized - although the tented taxi space is a long walk - there were only 15 people in front of me and it went quickly. It took me longer to walk through the tented areas. About 2/3rds of the way through it, there are passenger vans and greeters with clip boards where you can pick up a direct to Airport and other city location shared rides (a ride to the Hilton was quoted as $5 compared to an $8 taxi). The vans were all 15+ passenger Mercedes with room for luggage. As soon as one partially filled, the vans were leaving. I continued on for a taxi, which was a quick process, too.
After returning to the port in the rental - signage is lacking in the port area where to enter - and a few missed turns - I picked up my fellow passengers and we were off for a day in the country. We went to the St Anne Basilica - about 20 miles east of the port - it was amazing - and truly the highlight of our trip. We have been there before - and would definitely go again. On the way back we stopped at the Falls for another visit. We enjoy it too. Then onto our hotel, the Comfortel Airport. A comfy place where I would stay again, about 10 minutes from the airport, even in rush hour with no overnight plane noise. The next morning, we flew out with a layover in Toronto.
That said, Toronto required us to switch terminals, go thru security in the new terminal and US Customs. The US Customs team consisted of 2 agents checking credentials with no queue to the line. A 3rd agent would come out to relieve for breaks, but not stay open to work the line - which was completely through the cattle lines and backed out of the room. A lot of people missed flights because of poor management of the area. If folks were texting on cell phones, they were put to the back of the line - if other passengers offered to let folks ahead to catch flights - they were told no, everyone had to stay in their place. Ridiculous. US Customs can do better. I was embarrassed for them. If Air Canada had not held our flight - 1/2 of the passengers would have missed it. A young bride arrived on the plane in tears over the emotion of the ordeal. I'm sharing this in case you are like me and think a 1:45 layover should be sufficient to make a connection - we got to the gate with no time to spare - boarded - and then waited over 20 minutes for the rest of our party to join us on the plane. Plan accordingly.
That said - the Princess Cruise was nice - good food - great ports with extra late evenings in several of the ports, including NYC and Boston. We enjoyed it - and encourage others to consider this itinerary.
250,000+ people have entered their email
Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
Bar HarborLove Bar Harbor! Took the public bus for a day at Acadia. A terrific day.View All 461 Bar Harbor Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Bar Harbor Cruise Port Review
BostonLove the North End and Freedom Trail sites. Public Transportation is easy to navigate.View All 638 Boston Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Boston Cruise Port Review
Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island)Our cruise did not stop here this time. WE have been there in the past.View All 180 Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island) Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island) Cruise Port Review
Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)We arrived the day before and had a rental car - visiting the beach. Our hotel provided a free cruise port shuttle, but no free breakfast.View All 1,922 Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades) Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades) Cruise Port Review
HalifaxWe enjoy Halifax and Peggy's Cove. Rented a car for our tour.View All 735 Halifax Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Halifax Cruise Port Review
New York (Manhattan)We took the ferry to Manhattan and spent the day.View All 1,008 New York (Manhattan) Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's New York (Manhattan) Cruise Port Review
NewportLoved this port. Rode the public bus out to the mansion and cliff walk.View All 209 Newport Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Newport Cruise Port Review
Portland (Maine)We didn't stop there this time, but have in the past and enjoy visiting the Headlight and the port area. Great food.View All 319 Portland (Maine) Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Portland (Maine) Cruise Port Review
Quebec CityExcellent port - love the overnight visit. Day 1 Old City and Day 2 rented a car to visit St Anne's Basilica and the Falls. The basilica should be a bucket list item. It is amazing.View All 270 Quebec City Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Quebec City Cruise Port Review
Saint John (New Brunswick)Sundays limit activities, we had to wait for retail to open.View All 372 Saint John (New Brunswick) Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Saint John (New Brunswick) Cruise Port Review
Sydney (Nova Scotia)Not a lot to do in Sydney - we walked around.View All 147 Sydney (Nova Scotia) Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Sydney (Nova Scotia) Cruise Port Review