This was one of the best, most relaxing, most fun vacations we've ever had. Princess provided an excellent experience for an excellent price. We will travel with Princess again.
5 out of 5
Embarkation was FAST. We arrived at the FLL airport at about 8am, and stayed at the airport rather than trying to find something to do in Fort Lauderdale with our luggage. We went to the cruise port at about 11, as we read that they have a lobby/waiting room. We figured we'd have to wait for another couple hours, but we didn't! We got a taxi from the airport, the taxi dropped us off right at the terminal. A man approached us and took our luggage (we had the luggage tag printed, but not attached to our bag. The baggage handler pulled a stapler out of his pocket to attach it, which was good since we didn't have a stapler!) We walked inside the terminal, and practically RAN through the checkin lines. We didn't have to wait in any lines (we already had our Medallions, from OceanReady). We showed our passports, scanned our passports, and were directed onto the ship! Smoothest, quickest checkin we've encountered.
Food and Dining
5 out of 5
We didn't eat in the main dining room at all, and didn't feel the need to. The buffet was wonderful and provided lots of DELICIOUS options at almost all hours. We ate A LOT of pizza from the little Pizza Shop, which was some of the best Pizza we've ever had. Room Service provided delicious late night snacks (the roast beef sandwhiches are to die for!) and breakfast in the morning. We did eat at Sabitani's (Specialty Italian Restaurant), courtesy of , and were very impressed. My husband said that the food was BETTER than the Italian he's eaten IN ROME. The atmosphere was also very nice.
5 out of 5
We spent most of our time relaxing on our own balcony, but we did enjoy a Movie Under the Stars (we took our buffet plates out on the deck to start the movie, had popcorn brought to us by a staff member, and ordered drinks right to us with the OceanNow app). I had a massage at the Lotus Spa, which was HIGHLY worth the cost! It was very relaxing. The pools didn't look too crowded, although there were usually several people in them.
We didn't feel like going to any of the events, we were enjoying our own room and balcony!
We don't have children. :)
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
I wish I could rate this higher, because the service was better than anything I can describe. We were impressed with the service and staff in all venue's, from room service that was efficient without being smothering (we NEVER felt like our privacy was being invaded in any way, as we have with some other cruiselines that have TOO eager staff), to the bartenders who were read with the Diet Coke when they saw us walking up, to all other staff we interacted with on the ship.
5 out of 5
The ship wasn't too big, but wasn't cramped. There was plenty of space for everyone. The common areas were all clean, well maintained, and well decorated and furnished, providing a nice "homey" feeling without being stark and/or showy.
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
Our balcony stateroom was very spacious! We actually didn't use a lot of the storage space because we didn't need it. The closet was much larger than I expected, and the desk drawers and nightstand drawers provided a lot of storage area also. The chairs in the room were slightly outdated, but we didn't spend much time in them. We watched a movie (provided by Princess) on the huge TV in our room from our bed and were very comfortable. We each spent a lot of time in the balcony chairs, so would have appreciated some extra cushioning, but they were comfortable enough. The room service was excellent. We put the "please service my room" sign on our door each time we went out, and by the time we got back, our room was spotless, organized, had a freshly changed bed and was restocked with towels, toilet paper, etc. The bed was very comfortable (both my husband and I have had back injuries, and the Princess bed didn't aggravate either of us), as was the temperature of the room, which can be controlled directly from the room. Our one complaint with the room was the toilet, which was very tall and had a very narrow seat, making it a little uncomfortable to "do business". That's a small complaint compared to the overall comfort of the room!
The location of our room was perfect for us also: deck 14, right by the elevator. We could walk out of our room, up one flight of stairs, and turn either direction for the buffet and bars to get drinks. It was very convenient! We could hear the elevator, and occasionally a noisy child/group went by on the way to the elevator, but that didn't take away from our enjoyment of that room.
Fort Lauderdale is a very convenient place to sail from, and was well set up. We didn't do an excursion here either leaving the port or upon our return. When we returned to Fort Lauderdale after the cruise, we disembarked at 8am but our flight wasn't until 8pm, and we needed something we could do with our luggage. We booked a day room at the Rodeway Inn and Suites, and highly recommend it to anyone needing a room for a day. It was affordable, and gave us a calm, cool place to relax after disembarking. There is a pool, a sports bar at the Inn, and pizza delivery. What more do you need? :)
My husband and I were not impressed with Princess Cays. There were too many people packed too close together on a small portion of the island. We brought our own snorkel gear, and were constantly being bumped into by other snorkelers not paying attention to where they were swimming. It appears Princess is attempting to encourage the growth of a reef around some of the rocks on the beach, but right now, the rocks are just a hazard for someone to get pushed into by other swimmers.
The BBQ provided for lunch was very good, and lines were short, so we could get food quickly. Seating under the pavilions is limited, but we did find places.
We weren't interested in paying the higher prices for the excursions or equipment rental, and will probably just stay on the ship if we are on a cruise stopping at Princess Cays again. The ship does run some shopping and spa specials due to being in port, which I'd highly recommend. I had the massage special of the day when we returned to the ship and was very impressed!
So overall, Princess Cay is a great port for those who enjoy "tourist activities" and being close to other people. For those of us who prefer "doing our own thing," staying on the ship this day is a good option too!
We got off the ship around noon in St. Thomas, and walked down the crowded shopping center to find a taxi. There were A LOT of people trying to get a taxi, but the drivers were all very helpful! One of the first things we noticed was that people were driving RIGHT AT US! IN OUR LANE! Except... On St. Thomas, people drive in the left lane. The ride across the Island to Coki Beach, where our dive excursion took place, was fun! We had our cameras out and got some great pictures as we drove over the tops of the mountains, looking out at the ocean/bays on all sides.
Diving with the Coki Dive Center was a great experience. They were very laid back, didn't make us feel rushed to get our paperwork filled out and equipment stowed. Our dive instructor, Kristin, was knowledgeable and charismatic, making the introductory land course a fun addition to the diving portion of the excursion! Several large iguanas (3+ feet long) joined the class. Don't worry ladies, they don't bite unless you have brightly painted toenails, and then they think your toes are berries and might nibble a little! ;)
We walked into the ocean and explored the reef in a wide circle, going to 40+ feet deep. At the farthest point out, a large bull shark swan toward our party, but quickly turned and swam back to deeper water. My favorite part of the dive was the brilliantly colored rainbow fish and the gorgeous purple fan coral. Our dive party was a good size, not too large. After diving, we returned back to the ship, had Pizza, and took a nap, rather than spending more time exploring St. Thomas. Diving is tiring, and we wanted to RELAX this vacation!
St. Maarten was hands down our favorite port on this cruise. We did the ATV Adventure with the Blue Bubble Dive Shop, which allowed us to not only "see", but also really "EXPERIENCE" both the French and the Dutch sides of the Island. Our tour was early, meeting at 9:00am (we had some confusion about this, since the excursion ticket said that the tour time was 9:00, but had instructions for meeting a shuttle. We were unsure if we were supposed to meet the shuttle at 9:00, or meet the shuttle early and be at the Blue Bubbles Dive shop location at 9:00. MEET THE SHUTTLE AT 9:00!)
Disembarkation in St. Maarten was SMOOTH, the dock was clear and open of people, so we got some great photos. The shopping center right off the dock was also more spacious than in St. Thomas, and felt a little better set up. We had no problems finding the meeting place for the shuttle, and so didn't have to pay for a taxi (thank you Blue Bubbles!) again. We were able to fill out paperwork while waiting on the shuttle. We did have to provide our Drivers License information. The excursion itself was VERY well done.
Once everyone had arrived (It was a large group, probably 20-25 people, some single riders and some double riders, and no one other than my husband and I had ever ridden an ATV before), Blue Bubbles provided us with water bottles to take on the excursion, and we got on the ATVs and started through the city. Unfortunately, several of the mothers on double riders with their children had a hard time keeping up and were causing our tour to spread out and block traffic, posing a danger to themselves and St. Maarten natives. Our guide handled the matter very professionally, explaining the problem to them and telling them he'd give them one more chance to keep up, or he'd have to send them back. We went off road for a little while then, which was FUN! Unfortunately, the women were still not comfortable keeping up, so at the top of the dirt road, Dwight stopped our party and asked who wanted to return to the Blue Bubbles dive shop and try something else for the day. Several of the women decided they would go. Dwight apologized extensively to the rest of the group for the delay, and to their other group partners for needing to send them back. I can't speak for everyone in the party, but my husband and I agree he made the right choice, and we enjoyed the tour much more because of his difficult decision. While waiting for a taxi to come pick up the women, we got some great pictures!
After that, the rest of the group KEPT UP and we FLEW around the island in an exhilarating ride, going through the center of little towns and seeing apartments, hovels, normal houses, and mansions as well as local stores, chain stores common in the USA, grocery stores, ship graveyards, wrecked ships just laying on shore after hurricanes, etc. We stopped at Sunset Beach, near the Princess Juliana airport and spent about 20 minutes there enjoying the seating right over the beach and watching the low landing planes. Then, we opted out of shopping in the main French Tourism area to go to the Nude Beach. Dwight DID check with everyone to make sure EVERYONE was agreeable before we went there. The drive out to the beach was again filled with perfect Caribbean sites. We returned to the Blue Bubbles dive shop and were provided with Rum Punch (REAL, ISLAND RUM PUNCH) and access to the Dive Shop's private beach. We'd definitely visit St. Maarten and take this same tour again. We were in capable hands the entire time with Dwight and Joshua, and were able to experience the Island in a way few non-natives can. Blue Bubbles provided transportation back to the port as well, and saved us close to $40 for the two way transportation. My husband has been on many cruises and excursions all around the world, and this one ranks as his #1!
Once back at the port, returning to the ship was again easy. We were able to walk right on without waiting in long lines.
4 out of 5
Fast and Efficient, but we did a lot of "maze walking". We chose to "walk off" the ship, instead of disembarking in normal groups. Our original flight home was at 8:40am, but we needed to check a bag, and would have needed to be at the airport by 7:55 to do so. As the earliest possible disembarkation time was 7:30, we didn't think we'd make it in time, and didn't want to risk it. As it was, we left the ship at 7:50 and were able to walk straight off, breeze through customs, grab a quick taxi, and make it to our Day Hotel by 8:30. The only problem was having to walk back and forth through the lines set up for the customers debarking in groups later. Again, it's a small complaint (and we are planning on only bringing carryon bags next time!)
*Cruiseline.com is not a booking agent or travel agency,
and does not charge any service fees to users of our site. Our partners
(travel agencies and cruise lines) provide prices, which we list for our
users' convenience. Cruiseline.com does not guarantee any specific rates or
prices. While prices are updated daily, please check with the booking site
for the exact amount. Cruiseline.com is not responsible for content on
external web sites.
Need help from a personal vacation planner?
Find the perfect cruise with weekly tips and cruise deals for as little as $30/night!
Sign up for weekly cruise deals
Join other subscribers and get the best
cruise deals of the week in your inbox every Thursday.