Sunday, November 23, 2008

Southern Caribbean Cruise in November on Princess

We just got back from our first cruise with Princess. Ok, we got back a week ago but after a vacation like this I needed time to relax. As the title of post states, it was the Southern Caribbean. We cruised out of San Juan, and only had one sea day making for a pretty busy week. The weather was very cooperative the entire week with very minor rain in the mornings that burned off quickly as the sun came up. The temps were in the high 80s.

The Ship: The Caribbean Princess
My wife fell in love with the "movies under the stars". Every night they played fairly recent (with a few exceptions like the night they ran the Rocky horror Picture Show) movies. A couple of which we had not seen yet ourselves. There are 2 decks in which you can watch the big screen from. Our recommendation is the lower deck of the 2 (which was Lido on this ship) for the best sound quality.
There were 5 dining rooms on board ship. One for standard dining with assigned times, two for "anytime dining" and 2 specialty (a Steak House and an Italian) that carried a cover charge. The steak house was $15 and the Italian was $20. We did anytime dining, which went over very well with most of our party of 7 adults. There were a couple that would have preferred to have the same server every night but all worked out well. We did go to the Steakhouse on one night. We made reservations a day earlier for all 7 of us being its a very small restaurant. All I can say is if you are a fan of steak, this was well worth the extra charge.
Our cabin was a balcony cabin on Deck 10. By luck this deck happened to have the biggest of the standard balconies of any deck. Our balcony was twice as deep as any of the others we could see from ours. This included our friends balcony on deck 12 that seemed tiny in comparison. While this may not sound like a big deal, it came in handy with a group of 7 where 2 of the cabins were inside. We had a couple of "balcony parties" at sail time in which none of us felt like sardines on the balcony.

The Ports:
The ships itinerary swaps between 2 different sets of ports depending on the week. This week we had stops in Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, Tortola, and St, Thomas. We had tours planed for every stop. Every Island became our favorite until the next day when we visited the next. From talking to other passengers, you cant go wrong with any of the tours offered. This was our first trip where my wife and I attempted Snorkeling and all I can say is that we are hooked. While in St. Thomas, we took a ferry over to St. Johns and snorkeled at Trunk Bay. Any snorkeling fans that have not been to this place needs to put it on their wish list. Unfortunately for us we have been told that most places we will visit in our future adventures will pale in comparison.

Overall, it was a great trip. They always are for us. There are always hick ups along the way and just rolling with them has always worked. This trip we had our tour in Tortola delayed for over an hour. Being it was an afternoon trip and the the time was getting short, we canceled and did our own exploring rather than worry about being late back to the ship. Being late we were told would not be a problem being it was a Princess booked tour eased others minds, but we just were not comfortable with the idea. I think our choice worked best for us because I would not have had as much fun otherwise. But whats a vacation worth unless there is at least one thing to throw a wrench into the mix.
Of all our cruises, this was the first one that we did not plan but was planned by others in our party. Because of this we over packed, hoping to be ready for whatever came up. This really worked out for us, and we ended up finding an occasion for everything we brought to wear. Being this cruise (and the airfare) was booked prior to the luggage price rates for the airlines, we did not have to pay for our bags flying to San Juan. We did pay for one of our carry ons to become a checked bag on the flights home but that again worked to our favor. Every flight we were on was oversold and flying home it was night to have the leg room.

We are currently in the pre planning stages of our next vacation. While the economy may have an impact on when it will happen, it wont have any impact on planing it. Looks like we are headed to Club Med next. As avid cruisers this will be a switch up for us but other members of our group like the Club Med appeal and after dragging them on a couple of cruises its time to return the favor.

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