If you are looking for a tropical escape with some of the best service available than this is the cruise for you. Deciding on a destination and time frame to travel to the Caribbean can be a challenge. You have to consider hurricane season which runs from May to November. I have cruised both in May and October with no weather woes, but you need to realize there is no guaranteed time to travel without a problem at sea. Once you have decided on a time to travel you need to decide on your destinations. The Caribbean is a beautiful region with so many stops to port in. We choose Princess cruises when we found a seven night cruise with four ports. Stopping at four destinations you only have three full days at sea. I was extremely pleased with our cruise we choose. We departed the metro Kansas City area on a cold 30 degree morning and headed to Fort Lauderdale via Southwest Airlines. We booked an extended stay through Princess Cruises and stayed overnight in Fort Lauderdale and were even provided transportation from the airport to the hotel and from the hotel to the cruise port the next day.
Once we arrived at the cruise port we were a little confused. The bus driver’s did not direct us very well and it took a little time to realize where we were supposed to board at. Once we solved that issue the next challenge was the line. It was wrapping clear around the building. I was thinking: wow, we are going to be here all day. Boy was I wrong as the line begin to pick up speed and moved quickly. We went through checkpoints where they checked our ID, boarding passes and birth certificates/passports. After passing this test we went through a security screenings. After passing through we arrived to an open area where you checked into your room based on your stateroom floor. Here is where you provide your credit/debit card or cash deposit for your Princess card for your stateroom charges while at sea. This only took maybe 5 minutes and then we were well on our way to our stateroom.
We were upgraded to an ocean view room. Upon arrival the room was clean and I was quite pleased at the above average size of the stateroom. Being hungry we headed above deck to eat. There was an array of choices available from a seafood buffet, pizza, hamburgers and hot dogs. After eating we settled back into our room and received our luggage. We had set sail for Princess Cays, Bahamas. An island privately owned by Princess Cruises. The following day the morning weather looked dreary, with a lot of ominous dark clouds hiding the beautiful sun. When we arrived to Princess Cays we ported at 9am and explored the island a bit before selecting a few lounge chairs and feeling out the temperature of the water. The water was bright blue and warm temps in the upper 70′s. This was our relaxing day of enjoying the water and sun. We did have a couple rain downpours, nothing lasting for more than 5 minutes and when it quickly moved out the bright sunshine returned. Princess offered a great BBQ buffet on the island for the day. The food was perfect for a day on the beach. We headed back to ship around 3pm. We left the Bahamas later that day and headed to our next stop. That evening we attended Movies under the Stars, a wonderful and unique way to watch any film while being provided popcorn and blankets.
Our third day at sea was a long one. These will be your typical drawn out days. We played some bingo and board games and eventually made our way on deck to enjoy some sunbathing by the pool while watching movies under the sun. This particular evening was the formal night. After putting our evening wear on we headed to the dining room for dinner, along the way taking portrait photos provided by the cruise ship to mark the occasion. We ended the evening by watching Sex & the City under the stars. Awaking the next morning to see we had arrived in St. Marten. Our excursion for the day was a caterman ship ride out to sea to a private beach. While at sea we were provided with snacks and alcoholic beverages. We made anchor at sea and were able to jump in the water and float and even head towards the sandy area where we encountered waves, some 4 to 6 feet high. We were told the waves were being caused by a hurricane that had hit a week earlier. Following our water adventure we headed back to the ship and rested up a bit before going to see the evening magic show, then ending the night with a luau party on deck.
Next day we arrived in St. Thomas USVI. A wonderful island with beauty offered all around. Our excursion included a bus ride to Paradise Point where we got a 360 view from up top of the island. We rode a tram that offered wonderful views, however the tram was crowded and a little uncomfortable. But once at the top it was so worth it. After finishing the tram ride our driver offered to take us back to the ship or drop us off downtown for shopping. We opted for the shopping. There were tons of offers everywhere. St. Thomas had the best deals to offer shopping wise. I would highly recommend, no make that insist that you shop here. This is where you will find the best deals on everything. After shopping till we dropped we headed back to ship by taxi. After another formal evening we prepared for our final stop. The next day we reached Grand Turk. Located on the Turk & Caicos Island. This area was hit badly by the hurricane a couple weeks prior. We decided to walk off the beaten path and head down to where a local recommended snorkeling. When we got there it was a beautiful location but there was no snorkeling and it was rather secluded. Everything was closed down due to damages from the storms. Disappointed we headed back to the cruise port. There we enjoyed a day on the beach. To finish things off we did some duty-free shopping and headed back to the ship.
After our final destination we had mostly finished up our trip. We enjoyed our last full day at sea. Ordered the drink specials and watched a few movies. That evening we went to the farewell show and had some laughs, finishing the night off by some gaming at the ship’s casino. The next morning we arrived back to port. A long much needed vacation is what we had. Relaxing is the best word used to describe a cruise. You sit back let them take you to your destination and enjoy all the perks along the way. If you get those midnight hunger pains you can always order room service at any time. Everything Princess Cruises had to offer was what I would expect. At an affordable price you can not beat this escape to the seas.
My final review would be:
Princess Cruises: a top notch cruise ship with friendly & efficient staff
Princess Cays, Bahamas – cruise owned destination offering a stunning beach
St. Marten – a lot to see, but not enough time; choose your excursions wisely
St. Thomas USVI – Caribbean shopping at it’s best
Grand Turk – stunning beaches but is rebuilding after destructive hurricane
Formal Nights – make sure to get your portrait photos
Bingo – a fun and exciting time killer while at sea
Weather – clear & sunny, temperatures in 80′s in October