Over the Christmas holiday I went on my 8th cruise, but surprisingly my first Caribbean or Princess cruise (pictures). Aside from some mechanical and weather issues, we had a great cruise, as always. However, I believe, and most of my family would agree, this is more accurately attributed to the time spent with family rather than to the cruise itself.
Princess Cruise line
We found Princess to be a pleasant cruising experience, though not on par with Celebrity. Below is a list of pros and cons we have for Princess and a few points of comparison. However, as my mom and I learned on Carnival, 1 ship and 1 cruise can be very different from another on the same line, therefore, take our assessment with a grain of salt.
To start with, perhaps the first bad experience we had was during the boarding process when we had to run 200-yards in the pouring rain through 6-inches of water from the terminal to the gangway. Wet t-shirt picture? Those are my favorite! Why donâ€™t they enclose or at least cover the path from the terminal to the gangway?
+ for Princess
â€¢ More closet space & all the hangars came off the rod
â€¢ Closet door didn’t bang other doors
â€¢ The theatre was excellent with sufficient slant so we could see, seats were comfortable and they had pull out trays for drinks
â€¢ We were not hassled for cocktails in the theatre
â€¢ Good fire drill – held in lounge – with sufficient explanation- didn’t have to go out on deck
â€¢ Large selections of books in library
â€¢ “Safe” easier to access
â€¢ Better pizza
â€¢ Excellent steak in gourmet dining room
â€¢ No long buffet lines at breakfast
– for Princess
â€¢ No DVD’s or cassette players in room – no clock in room
â€¢ Charge for ice cream
â€¢ No pasta bar
â€¢ Pool party was mainly for selling $6.95 cocktails
â€¢ Those with drink cards should not have to pay for soda on Princess Cays Island
â€¢ Can’t order room service on TV
â€¢ No presentation of desserts on tray
â€¢ Very slow service in gourmet dining room
â€¢ Should be able to view your account on TV screen prior to getting statement
â€¢ No trays for breakfast and no one to carry dishes – lack of coffee servers
â€¢ Need new movies as same ones shown multiple times
â€¢ Very small ($50) compensation for being 5 hrs late getting into Jamaica
â€¢ Food was generally better on Celebrity (especially French fries and ice cream)
â€¢ In general employees are better trained on Celebrity than Princess
â€¢ Evening shows are much better on Celebrity than Princess
Overall, weâ€™d say Celebrity is a nicer, more elegant, upscale cruise line than Princess, and certainly more so than Carnival. Even so, there have never been less than 400 kids on any Celebrity cruise weâ€™ve been on.
My guess is weâ€™ll stick with Celebrity whenever possible, except when we start pushing out to more exotic destinations to which Celebrity does not sail. Iâ€™m personally advocating for Royal Caribbean the next family cruise. And Iâ€™m really hoping to take a cruise myself on one of Conde Nast Readerâ€™s Choice cruise lines: SeaDream Yacht Club, Seabourne, Crystal, Silversea, or Regent Seven Seas.
I thought I was the only one taking my first winter trip to the Caribbean, but Iâ€™ve found out, Iâ€™m not, and Iâ€™ve gotten questions on what to wear and what to pack. First of all, weather.com. Just check the weather, both the predictions for your trip and the averages. Most likely, youâ€™re going to be wearing cool summer clothes, even swimsuits all day long. It’s a tropical climate, even in the winter, so you might spend your days laying on the beach or snorkelling the reefs. Pack accordingly, this includes a rain jacket. However, at dinner the restaurant wonâ€™t let you forget you left winter back at home. They crank on the air-conditioner clearly forgetting ladies are wearing sleeveless tops and dresses in accordance with the tropical locale. Bring a pashmina or a cardigan for your shoulders. Donâ€™t forget the cruise lineâ€™s evening dress codes.
Well, itâ€™s the Caribbean, so any tropical, outdoor things you can imagine:
â€¢ Beach, swimming
â€¢ Snorkeling, Scuba diving
â€¢ Zip lines
â€¢ Horseback riding
â€¢ Shopping, exploring the town and markets
â€¢ Cultural/historical tours
â€¢ Waterfall climbing (Jamaica)
â€¢ Drinking margaritas, eating Mexican food (Margaritaville)
I was surprised how pleasant of a destination the Caribbean was overall, and especially Cozumel. I expected the places to be overrun with cruise passengers and just a total pain (Jamaica was a bit of a problem). But the air temperature was nice, the places were reasonably developed, and the crowds werenâ€™t bothersome (but maybe Iâ€™m just used to it after living in China). The Caribbean was not nearly as hot as beaches in Thailand or Malaysia, which dissuaded me from going swimming (the water was actually chilly) but was nicer for looking around or lying on the beach. I guess it makes sense that the Caribbean is the most popular cruise destination for Americans and one of the most popular vacation destinations as well.
A very pleasant and enjoyable trip. Yay for family, Western food, and sun!