The 3,080-passenger Caribbean Princess boasts charm, elegance and a comfortable vibe. No matter your vacation interest -- romance, culture, exploring culinary interests, relaxing and rejuvenating, gambling or creating family memories -- you'll find something aboard to suit you.
What's especially nice about Caribbean Princess is its blend of indoor and outdoor amenities. Outdoors, the ship features four pools, multiple hot tubs, an adults-only private sun deck (fee applies), a jogging track, half-court basketball court, putting green and 900 balcony cabins. At night, under the stars, patrons can wrap themselves in snuggly blankets to watch movies on a huge 300-square-foot screen while munching fee-free popcorn.
Indoors, lounges and bars offer live entertainment, and on most nights The Princess Theater features three show times to accommodate everyone's schedule. The liveliest spot onboard is the Piazza. Strolling performers entertain while passengers indulge in light fare from the 24-hour International Cafe or sample wines and tapas at Vines. Entertainment options vary, but during our sailing, a magician, sword-swallower and an acoustic guitarist performed.
The dining rooms are reminiscent of an old-world cruising experience -- a maitre d' who greets everyone at the entrance, intricate designs on millwork, white-gloved and courteous servers, and a sommelier that does rounds in the dining room and recommends wonderful selections. Dining options abound; choose from at least 10 entree selections nightly, or opt to eat in either of two specialty restaurants (Sabatini's Italian or Crown Grill steakhouse), two buffets, a cafe serving sandwiches and salads, a pool-side grill or a pizzeria.
While Caribbean Princess was in dry dock in November 2011, the ship had some minor and major renovations. A sampling of these includes an upgrade of the Art Gallery and Art Gallery Locker, retiling of pools, marble replacement, polishing of some public areas, refurbishment of interior hardwood floors in several lounges and glass replacement in some public areas.
With more than 3,000 passengers onboard, Caribbean Princess still maintains an open and uncrowded feel. The friendly and competent staff keep things moving in the restaurants and buffets.
There are three dining rooms on Caribbean Princess; all have ceilings with twinkling lights and tasteful, Caribbean-themed artwork. The Palm is for traditional, fixed-seating dining (6 and 8:15 p.m.). Coral and Island are for passengers who have elected "Anytime Dining," which allows you to eat when and with whomever you'd like (between 5:30 and 10 p.m.). Reservations are available, but they aren't required. During peak times, passengers may encounter waits of no more than five to ten minutes on our sailing.Coral is also open for waiter-service breakfast and lunch.
Night rotating menu options include appetizers, soups, mains and desserts. Additionally, there are signature pastas and always-available choices like salmon and Caesar salad. Healthy Lotus Spa selections -- like seared sea bass -- are low in fat and sodium.
Horizon Court and Cafe Caribe (which look identical and flow right in to one another) are open nearly all day long: 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. The Horizon section serves as the ship's lido buffet restaurant and offers uninspiring breakfast buffets, laid out in tight quarters. Lunch choices vary a bit more and may include some unusual dishes like fried banana and peanut butter sandwiches. Two soups are featured daily.
Cafe Caribe offers lots of variety, featuring a different themed buffet each night -- like Bavarian Bierfest (beer is extra), Rijstafel (rice table) and Caribbean island seafood.
The International Cafe in the Piazza is a great alternative for small meals and is open 24 hours. In addition to gourmet coffees and espresso drinks, breakfast offerings include fresh-baked pastries, donuts and muffins. Grilled paninis, Greek salad and a chicken and cashew Waldorf salad were just a few of the delicious afternoon choices. And the cookies! The fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter and chocolate-chocolate chip cookies (not to mention the heavenly scent of them baking) are well worth an afternoon stop at the cafe each day.
Most cafe items are fee-free, with the exception of chocolate-covered strawberries and evening tapas (ranging from $1 to $5). The "Queen of Steam" or "Jack of Java" punch cards are a great deal, giving you 15 espresso drinks of your choice for $29.95. Note that service can be quite slow during peak times of the day.
On Deck 5, Vines is a wine bar offering an extensive menu with more than 30 wines by the glass, as well as wine flights. It serves up fresh bites that include sushi, seafood and tapas. An assortment of meats and cheeses also will tempt your palate. There's both bar seating and cluster seating.
Sabatini's is Princess' signature Italian alternative restaurant ($25 per adult). Passengers can order any appetizer (calamari, wild mushroom tart, soft shell grab, cheese plate), main course (striped bass, lobster, duck with fava beans, signature pasta) and dessert (cheese cart, tarts, creme brulee).
Crown Grill, another alternative restaurant, is styled after popular steakhouses. There is both table and booth seating with some tables offering window-side views. The menu is comprehensive, and patrons can choose from a variety of steaks, side dishes, seafood specialties and more. Servers take care and time explaining the varying cuts of beef and was patient with our questions. The steaks were tender, cooked the way they were ordered, and the side dishes were hearty enough to share family-style. The ambience of the restaurant was also very enjoyable. The noise level was low, and we didn't feel rushed. The cover charge is $25 per passenger.
For total foodies, the Chef's Table is an elegant meal option that also allows diners a behind-the-scenes look at how dishes are created and served. The event begins with pre-dinner cocktails and hors d'oeuvres in the galley. The ship's executive chef joins the group to explain the special menu for the night, and then participants are escorted to an intimate table in the dining room for the main course, including wine pairing suggestions to complement the dinner. The $95-per-person fee includes a copy of a Princess cookbook.
An delightful English pub lunch menu -- think fish and chips, shepherd's pie -- is available on sea days at the Crown Grill (11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.); there's no extra charge for the food.
Poolside eateries include Trident Grill (burgers, hot dogs and fries) and Prego Pizzeria.
Room service is available 24 hours a day. The menu includes a variety of sandwiches (turkey, tuna, veggie), salads and hot dishes like soup, burgers and hot dogs. For something indulgent, you can order desserts -- caramel flan, chocolate fudge cake and chocolate chip cookies. Also, in addition to this room service menu, passengers can also enjoy limited items from the day's main dining room menu in their cabins, but these selections vary. There is a $3 delivery charge for pizza delivered to the cabin, as well as a charge for beverages, including alcohol.
Princess' unique twist on room service is its Ultimate Balcony Dining option for passengers in balcony cabins and suites. The custom multi-course meal comes with a bottle of Champagne, stellar service and special touches. It's priced at $32 per couple for breakfast and $100 per couple for dinner.
The Internet Cafe & Library is home to about 20 computer stations and a decent selection of books. Games like Yahtzee, Jenga, Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit and checkers can also be borrowed there. The library has very limited hours, about two a day. There is a drop-box for retuning books on loan. Interestingly, there are only three seats in the library that aren't associated with computer terminals. Fortunately, there is plenty of seating just out front in the Piazza.
Internet charges are 75 cents per minute, and packages are available that get you more minutes at a reduced price: 100 minutes for $55, 150 minutes for $75, 250 minutes for $100 and 500 minutes for $175. Laptop owners can use their minutes on their own computers and/or at one of the computer stations. Buy a package on embarkation day to receive bonus minutes. Don't expect anything close to land-based speed. The Internet Cafe is very crowded, especially during sea days and before dinner. The ship also charges 50 cents per printed page. You can also save money if you purchase your Internet minutes online through the Princess Web site before you cruise.
Wi-Fi is available. Signals are strongest in public spaces and are quite weak in cabins, unless you leave your door open.
Onboard shopping can be found on Decks 6 and 7. Shops include the Vines Shop for wine, chocolates, and wine-themed gifts and accessories; Limelight, for duty-free purchases; Essence for cosmetics and perfume; Calypso Cove for souvenirs and logowear; and Facets for fine jewelry and watches. Patient and helpful staff are ready to assist all customers.
Smoking is limited to designated areas -- parts of lounges, casinos and the open decks -- and is prohibited in passenger cabins.
Standard balcony (187 square feet with 84-square-foot [Caribe Deck] or 44-square-foot [other decks] balcony), outside (158 to 182 square feet) and inside (163 square feet) cabins are cozy when it comes to size, but they're well-equipped and laid out. Some have seating areas. Bathrooms are fairly compact, featuring showers with no tubs.
All cabins are equipped with mini-fridges that you can fill with your own juices and snacks. Bathrooms across categories are stocked with toiletries from the Lotus Spa collection (shampoo, conditioner, bath gel and lotion).
Bath robes, slippers, bedrails and two types of cribs are available upon request.
TV's offer live satellite reception of CNN, ESPN International, TNT, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network and Boomerang (where coverage permits). There are also several movie channels, featuring a wide selection of first-run movies and two family stations, as well as a special version of the Discovery Channel. Sporting events -- like the NBA Finals and the Super Bowl -- are also shown. In-cabin televisions are not interactive, so you can't book shore excursions or pre-order wine from them. However, one of the channels shows a running schedule of movies so passengers can plan accordingly.
Mini-suites (266 square feet with 57-square-foot balcony) are in essence up-sized balcony cabins. They have sleeping areas and living areas, separated by archways that have Velcro strips across the top. Request curtains from your cabin steward to separate the two areas. The living area side has a sofa (which pulls out to a full-size bed with an uncomfortably thin mattress) and a cleverly designed, curved cabinet system that straddles the two sides of the room, offering two 26-inch, flat-screen TV's (one facing each side), plus several shelves for storage.
Mini-suite closets are impressively roomy. The bathrooms have a tub/shower combination, white tile floor, a nice long vanity and built-in shelves on the side for extra storage, making it easy for two people to utilize and store their necessities in the bathroom. Note: Mini-suites E730 and E731 (in the curved, aft section of the ship) have balconies that are about 25 square feet bigger than standard mini-suite balconies.
True Suites range in size from 1,279 square feet (Grand Suite) to between 461 and 689 square feet (mid-size suites), all with separate living and sleeping quarters, and spacious balconies.
Suites also feature two TV's, DVD/CD players (and free access to the DVD library), warm-wood furniture, sizeable closets and upgraded furnishings (especially on the balconies, where you'll find teak wood tables and chairs with cushions, as opposed to the lightweight, plastic-with-mesh coverings that are on all other balconies). Extra perks include complimentary laundry and dry-cleaning services, complimentary Web access in the Internet Cafe and a one-time free mini-bar setup.
In addition to the above suites, seven window suites (333 to 360 square feet, no balconies) are wider and more square-shaped than the mini-suites (18 feet wide by 22 feet long, as opposed to 9 feet wide and 38 feet long) and include cushioned couches near the windows. Window suite passengers receive the same perks as the full-suite cruisers mentioned above. The only exception is that there is one TV per cabin instead of two.
There are 27 cabins for passengers with disabilities. The cabins range from oceanviews to mini-suites with balconies. One of the new window suites is also available. ADA features include showers with fixed stools; grab rails and handheld showerheads, plus ramp access to balconies and door widths of 35.5 inches.
Gratuities, which are automatically charged to onboard accounts, are $11.50 per person (including children), per day, for passengers staying in standard accommodations and $12 for passengers staying in mini-suites and suites. A 15 percent gratuity is added to beverage purchases onboard, including wine at dinner. Spa and casino staff members do not share in the gratuity charges -- if you use these services, tips are advised.
|Fitness and Recreation|
There are five pools on Caribbean Princess, which help to give this massive vessel a small-ship feel. The Calypso Pool (conveniently located near Horizon Court's buffets) has a 300-square-foot movie screen with day and night programming. The sound system is loud to the point where you can't easily have a conversation. And parents beware: Movies and shows are shown throughout the day -- some family-friendly, some not, like the PG-13-rated "The Dark Knight" or "Baby Mama."
Neptune Reef pool is located in front of the pizzeria and is as deep as Calypso (more than five feet). Hence, it's also not ideal for families with preschool-age children.
Pirate's Pool (located on Deck 16, just below the basketball court) is the best bet for kids. It's just deeper than four feet, has bench seating around it for parents (as well as a bar for drinks) and is located next to a 10-inch deep toddler pool with a dolphin-shaped mini-slide. Hot tubs are located near each one of the pools.
There are two adults-only pools. The Terrace Pool is the quietest, and it's fairly shaded, depending on the time of day, because of its location beneath the suspended Skywalker's Nightclub. It has stadium-style benches and loungers. The Spa Pool sits a deck below the Sanctuary, in the middle of the U-shaped Lotus Spa and Health Club.
The adult-sonly Sanctuary is a heavenly place to nap. The mostly shaded area has potted trees and big, wrought-aluminum lounge chairs with padding as thick as a mattress. "Serenity Stewards" deliver plush towels, herbal energy drinks, smoothies and MP3 players with BOSE noise-canceling headphones (preloaded with 1,000 songs, grouped by themes that range from jazz to gentle wave sounds). Be sure to use the headphones, but realize they are in limited supply. The entry fee to Sanctuary is $10 for half-day use, $20 for full-day.
Lotus Spa treatments range from oxygen-lifting facials and hot-stone massages to acupuncture and teeth-whitening. Couples' massages are popular, but treatments are not limited to the romantic; there is a mother/daughter "Paradise" massage and father/son "Chill-Out" massage, offered as part of the spa's Generation Y Spa program. Manicures, pedicures and facials are also available for kids.
The fitness center offers fee-free stretching and aerobics classes, as well as $12-per-class yoga and Pilates. The spacious floor area for classes doubles as a place to use exercise balls and mats. Free weights, Cybex equipment and more than 20 treadmills are also available.
Other recreational options include a half-court for basketball, Ping-Pong, a cyber-golf simulator and paddle tennis. Wii tennis, bowling and other Wii sports are available for play in Explorer's Lounge. The ship also has a putting green that can be used for mini-golf for a few players.
Princess offers three programs for children, preschoolers through teens. Princess Pelicans, for 3- to 7-year-olds, is a colorful, indoor/outdoor center where kids can make necklaces and stuffed animals, color their own T-shirts and play in a fenced-in, outdoor area with a mini-basketball hoop and tricycles. Parents may accompany their children.
Staffers are not permitted to change diapers, so parents are given pagers in case a child needs changing or needs a parent for some other reason. Note: Parents whose children are not potty-trained are unable to leave the ship on port days without their children.
Shockwaves offers activities -- including dodgeball, Guitar Hero, science projects, pizza dinners and foosball -- for children, ages 8 to 12.
Admission to the programs is complimentary through 10 p.m. From 10 p.m. until 1 a.m., there is a $6-per-hour, per-child, charge. In-cabin baby-sitting is not offered.
In Remix, teens (ages 13 to 17) can hang out in a cool space to listen to music, play Playstation, drink mocktails and take hip-hop dance lessons.
Fellow passengers run the gamut from families with children to retirees. The average age on a non-school-break sailing is 51, while school-break and summer sailings skew younger, as they attract more families. During winter holiday sailing, many families will bring children ages 10 and older, so the children's programs are likely to be packed with tweens and teens.
Two formal nights are scheduled on seven-night itineraries. On other evenings, the requested dress code is cruise casual, which means pants for gents and slacks or dresses for ladies. While the dress code is adhered to in the main dining rooms and specialty restaurants, casual dress is fine for dining at the buffet.
Caribbean Princess has more excellent entertainment choices than you can squeeze into a week.
Each venue has a different type of offering. Crooners (overlooking the Piazza) features a pianist and music trivia contests. Explorer's Lounge is primarily an events lounge for everything from art auctions to Wii sports tournaments, plus magicians and comedic shows. The Piazza offers a variety of demonstrations, musical performances and circus-lite acts throughout the day.
Club Fusion is part nightclub, part game show venue and is, indeed, entertaining for the hilarious Marriage Game. On our sailing, a couple who had been married for 53 years gave a couple of newlyweds a run for their money when answering questions about their spouses, such as "if your husband was a car, what kind would he be" and "when was the last time you had relations?"
Princess' trademark Skywalker Nightclub (located in the rear-spoiler-looking aft end of the ship) hosts 70's-, 80's- and 90's-inspired dance nights and, thankfully, a few nights with a variety of current music. The disco has security and checks ID's upon entering. For more low-key dancing, try the Wheelhouse Bar, which often hosts combos playing soft rock and standards.
The Princess Theater is the ship's main venue for production shows and comedy acts. During our sailing, there were three production shows with a talented cast of singers and dancers. They offered a variety of music and selections that would appeal to a broad mix of ages. Other performances may include PG-rated comedian and magicians.
Churchill Lounge, hidden away near the lower level of Princess Theater, is the place to smoke cigars and watch sports.
Movies Under the Stars, in the Calypso Pool area, is an idyllic place to watch, well, movies under the stars. It also showcases concerts by musicians like Beyonce and Josh Groban, as well as sporting events like the Super Bowl. In the evenings, burgundy slipcovers with built-in mini-pillows are slipped over each poolside lounger. Small, wool blankets are passed out, and the smell of popcorn from an old-fashioned cart floats across the pool deck. Staff members take drink orders and deliver complimentary popcorn so you don't have to move. Even non-TV junkies could wile away hours there.
The casino features 11 gaming tables (including one dice, one American roulette and a table to accommodate wheelchairs) as well as more than 150 slot machines.
Daytime entertainment offerings are numerous, ranging from Photoshop and scrapbooking workshops and ballroom-dance classes to ceramic-painting and bridge.
The efficiently run shore excursion department offered easy-to-read registration forms. Each tour was well-described, and the offerings included everything from sedate bus tours to active kayaking and hiking explorations.
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