I already submitted a short version of this trip review to Cruise Critic. I’ll post the link once it’s published. This one has more details with pictures and I can respond to comments and questions should there be any.
Why did we choose this cruise?
1) need REAL relaxation time after the 16-day port intensive Danube river cruise in July
2) We had travel credits ($200 from United & $200 from American Express) to spend before the end of August 2018
3) TA sent me a good deal in April (US$1600 for 2 in a balcony room with refreshment drinks package, $100 OBC, tax & gratuities all included)
4) $100 Princess ship board credit plus elite perks (free WIFI, free laundry, free mini-bar…)
5) recharge before going back to teach in September
6) DH had 10 vacation days left for 2018
7) Though we’ve been to W. Caribbean many times, there were 2 ports Roatan in Honduras & Costa Maya in Mexico that we have never visited – a good itinerary for W. Caribbean
I usually spend a ton of time doing research for various shore excursions, but for this cruise I basically did nothing. I only asked DH to pick a ship excursion for each port of Roatan & Costa Maya one week before we sailed. With the cruise, pre-cruise hotel & flights that I booked in April, off we went!
Day 0 – August 10, 2018 (Fri) – Toronto to Fort Lauderdale
In order to spend the $200 from United, I could only choose a UA flight but not a codeshare one. It’s very hard since we’re flying to Fort Lauderdale from Toronto in Canada. The best and most economical way was to fly with 1 stop.
Here are some tips for travellers: If legroom is important for you rather than the seat width, purchase the exit row. Check your flight configuration to know which your exit/bulkhead row is. I paid an extra $58 (usually over $80) for sitting at Row 7 for both flights (Toronto to Chicago & Chicago to Fort Lauderdale). This was the first row of Economy Plus. Business class was the row in front of us. For those who don’t have priority boarding, pay $30 to have United Airline’s premier access so you could skip the line to the front of security and have priority boarding. It’s totally different for long flights. I always book a year in advance and pay extra for the bulkhead seats. There is NO chance to get those seats during check-in. One disadvantage for having those seats will be that you CANNOT put anything in front of you during take-off and landing, as there is NO seat but just a partition in front of you most of the time. All hand luggage & purse must be put in the overhead bin. It might be inconvenient for some people.
However, this flight type is different. Not only was there extra legroom (almost 3 ft. from seat to the pouch containing airline magazines and safety cards), but this bulkhead seat was also one that I could still put our little backpacks under the Business class seat in front of me, as the bulkhead didn’t go all the way down to the floor. We even had more legroom than those in the Business class. Rows 1 – 22 had electrical outlets in between 2 seats. Here is a picture to show how much legroom we got on United 737-800:
For our connecting flight, we had the same seats on Row 7 but the flight was a different model, an airbus A320. Other than the extra legroom, there was a partition that separated the economy plus and the business class seats.
For this flight, both DH & myself had our own space for our backpacks and we didn’t have to share.
After an hour’s delay, we landed at 4:26 pm, got our luggage at 4:50 pm and took a taxi for $12.10 fare + $3 airport charge + $1.90 tip ($17 total) to our hotel, Four Points by Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Airport and Cruise Hotel. We booked this hotel mainly because I had an SPG reward night that’s only good for a Category 4 hotel. There are only 2 Cat 4 hotels that are close to the cruise port but this one is closer to the airport. I didn’t opt for a free hotel airport shuttle as I didn’t feel like waiting. It’s better to get to the hotel earlier to rest after a whole day of travel.
Although it’s a small hotel, the front desk personnel Jason & Tabitha were very nice and friendly. Even the cleaner and the bar tender said hello and made us feel really welcomed. Our room was on the second floor which was really basic and old, but it’s free and we’re only here for 1 night, it’s okay since it’s quite clean. There was a very old-fashioned safety deposit box about 2-inch deep in the closet, so we locked our passports and money there before stepping out for dinner.
Originally we wanted to walk to a nearby seafood restaurant (0.7 mile away) highly rated by TripAdvisor, called Kelly’s Landing New England Seafood, but it started to rain and it was very windy, so the hotel called us a taxi for $6 to get there.
The food was very good, especially the appetizer New England boiled clams in broth and butter, so fresh and delicious!
Day 1 – August 11, 2018 (Sat) – Embarkation
This morning we left the hotel at 11:30 am, called a taxi & paid $7.30 to get to the port. A port shuttle from the hotel cost $6 per person, which was very expensive compared to going by taxi. Besides, the shuttle didn’t stop at just the Princess pier but to all piers where there were ships docked. Today there were Carnival Conquest & RCI’s mega ship Harmony of the Seas.
We arrived at the Terminal at 11:50 am & stepped inside the beautiful Caribbean Princess at 12 noon. The whole check-in process took only 10 minutes. We went to the dining room for lunch & it was only half full. I gathered that most people went to the buffet & many tried the new dining venues Planks BBQ & Steamers Seafood.
Our stateroom was ready at 1 pm & our luggage was delivered at 2 pm. Then we went to the spa to do a tour, booked some embarkation specials & went to the muster drill at 3 pm. Our muster station was in the Princess Theatre.
Then we went back to the stateroom to unpack. Here is a video of how I used the cruise card to operate the Ocean Medallion pad to open the door:
The WIFI was very good, probably because not that many people were using it yet. It was $9.99 per day per device if you want to pay for the entirety of the cruise, which I think is quite reasonable. Pay by day would be $19.99. As elite members, we got it for free for the WHOLE cruise, instead of just 150 free minutes. This was another great perk that we had with the new Ocean Medallion. This was our first Princess cruise that we had complimentary WIFI for the whole duration of our cruise.
This was our 1st time staying in a balcony stateroom. For all the Princess cruises that we went on, we have always stayed in a suite. The room was smaller than what I expected. I think this was the smallest stateroom that we’ve ever stayed out of the 30+ cruises that we have done.
Another thing I didn’t like about the room was that there was only one electrical outlet with 2 sockets that we could have access to. There was one more outlet behind the big TV that was almost unreachable. We plugged in a nightlight and left it there till we left.
Many guests mentioned that their stateroom furniture was tired and outdated. We found the opposite. The padding of the chair and armchair and those on the wall above the bed were all new and fresh. We found no stain or scratch on the off-white chair and the beige wall covering looked entirely new (as seen from the picture below). Probably not all rooms were revamped and we were lucky to get Riviera 230 (Port Side Forward) on Deck 14.
After unpacking we went to the Palm Dining Room on deck 6 aft for traditional dining. The food was the same as the other dining rooms, just a different location. The service was very good and the prime rib that I had was juicy & tender.
After dinner we went to the spa for our treatments. DH had a Man’s Package (3 treatments for $99) & I had a seaweed massage $209 for 100 minutes ($50 discount). The spa was beautiful. This is the locker area:
This was the treatment room with a shower stall inside the room, so I didn’t have to step out to rinse off my seaweed.
I think we were the last customers there so the waiting room was empty. It looked very new and gorgeous after last year’s dry dock. I’ll post the waiting room photo on the last sea day.
Here is more info regarding hotel choices:
I forgot to mention that many passengers stayed at Embassy Suites for their pre/post-cruise. It was the red/white building right below the road label “Florida State Road A1A” on the map I showed in Post #1. It’s a more convenient location going to the port and to the plaza right opposite the hotel. Renaissance, Hilton & Pier Sixty Six Marina were also close-by.
We also stayed at W Fort Lauderdale & Westin near the ocean on previous cruises. They were just further away from the airport and the port, but a lot more night life was going on there.
Day 2 – August 12, 2018 (Sun) – At Sea
Today was a super relaxing day! We started with a Cruise Critic Meet & Greet in the Skywalkers Nightclub with over 20 members there. After 1 hour’s informal chat we went to the casino to do a Slot Pull together. It was fun!
We had lunch at Steamers. I quite like their Ramen as we could choose our own ingredients & the kitchen staff would add broth or stir fry the noodles for us. We like seafood so we booked dinner at the Steamers for tomorrow night. Here’s the Ramen:
After lunch I took a long nap before room service delivered the evening canapés to us.
At 5 pm, we went to the Skywalkers Nightclub for the elite members Happy Hour & had some pre-dinner hors d’oeuvres.
Dinner was very good. The French onion soup had lots of onions & it was cooked perfectly.The leg of lamb was also tender & juicy.
We had fried banana & ice cream for dessert. It was delicious.
I highly recommend the show “Bravo”! The whole singing & dancing team plus the soprano were so good that we went to the 9:30 pm performance again. Both shows were packed.
Humming the beautiful melodies that we heard from the shows, we spent some time in the casino before going to bed.
Day 3 – August 13, 2018 (Mon) -Georgetown, Grand Cayman
After a very relaxing breakfast at the buffet, we heard the announcement at 10:30 am that tender tickets were no longer required to go ashore. We then went to Deck 4 midship to use the gangway off the ship.The tender line was very short with only 10 people in front of us, but the 8:30 am excursion passengers were returning so we had to wait for at least 5 more minutes for them to go through security before we could board the tender as we used the same gangway. That was definitely not a good system but I guess there is nothing we can change due to the very limited space in the boarding area.
Most people just sat on the top deck of the big tender.
It took about 5 minutes to go to the shore, then we reached Royal Watler Terminal. There was practically no one there at 11 am.
Since we’ve been to Grand Cayman many times, we already did the stingrays & various underwater activities. So this time we intended to take a public bus to go to the Cayman Turtle Centre. At the pier, a taxi driver approached us and offered a discounted rate of US$8 one way or $12 return per person to the farm. We happily accepted the offer & rode the taxi there. The journey took 20 minutes. The taxi driver, Daniel Lowe, was so good that he even took us inside the farm & showed us around like a guide.
When we paid for admission, the staff asked how we came & we told them by taxi, so they only charged us US$11 per person instead of the regular US$18. Let’s do some math here:
By taxi: $12 x 2 people + $11 x 2 admission =US$46
By bus: $4 x 2 people + $18 x 2 admission = US$44
With only 2 dollars difference, I would definitely take a taxi to save time, though we gave the driver $6 tip. The comfort level with lovely air conditioning was totally worth the extra bucks.
The green sea turtles were huge. They’re 3-4 feet long & weigh 240-420 lbs. Look at how one would span a few steps.
We also saw an iguana & a crocodile.
Day 3 – August 13, 2018 (Mon) – Cayman Turtle Centre, Georgetown, Grand Cayman
We passed through a baby turtle pool & there were kids in the water holding the baby turtles.
In this picture, you can tell how big the turtles are with us standing beside them.
Next we went to an air-conditioned display centre to learn about the breeding of the turtles.
One turtle would lay about 1,000 eggs in 10 days.
After the eggs were hatched, the little turtles would take around 10 days to climb up & instinctively look for water to swim.
We spent about 10 minutes in the gift shop and I bought a little turtle soft toy for my grandson for $8.
Next we drove to a nearby Tortuga rum shop to try their rum cake & flavoured rum.
DH bought a 200 ml bottle with Banana flavour for US$10. There was no problem bringing this on board the ship when we returned.
The scenery behind the rum store was beautiful.
There was a seafood restaurant next to the rum store.
On the way back, there was a bit of traffic jam & it took us 25 minutes to get to the National Museum opposite the pier.
We paid US$8 each to spend about 30 minutes in the air-conditioned building with very good displays & an informative film.
Then I went to Del Sol next door to buy a pair of life-guaranteed sunglasses, on sale for $50. Here the same Del Sol sunglasses were almost $20 cheaper than Roatan & Costa Maya. The walk back to the tender pier from the store took only 5 minutes.
There was a good view of the Caribbean Princess.
Once on board, we went to the Coral dining room on Deck 6 to have our afternoon tea. Then we went to the Wheelhouse Bar for a drink before dinner. Today the elite lounge at Skywalkers was closed due to the Captain’s party later. I like the non-alcoholic Key West Cooler a lot.
The bar was really empty with only 5 people there.
Originally we made a reservation at Steamers.Once we knew they had Surf & Turf for the night, we changed our mind to eat in the dining room instead. However, my filet mignon was too well done instead of medium rare, so I had to switch it. The head waiter Filippo brought a second one to me which was like a medium. A bit disappointing with the main course tonight.
The dessert creme brûlée was okay.
Day 3 – August 13, 2018 (Mon) – Captain’s Party
After dinner, we went to the Captain’s cocktail for platinum & elite guests at Club Fusion. Some people started lining up half an hour before the 7:30 pm start time. It was a fun time to know about the different guest types on this sailing:
◦ Blue – 1971
◦ Gold – 476
◦ Ruby – 228
◦ Platinum – 406
◦ Elite – 257
It was interesting to know that over 50% of the guests were new to Princess.
The most travelled guest had over 1500 days on the Princess ships. Wow! Over 4 years on board!
We went to the comedian show afterwards. It was okay.
Day 4 – August 14, 2018 (Tues) – Roatan, Honduras
We slept in till 10 am, then we went to the Marketplace buffet to have our brunch. The ship docked at Mahogany Bay. Carnival Magic was already there.
I could see the beautiful Mahogany Beach from my Port side balcony.
At noon, there were only people from Carnival Magic, but later, there were hundreds of Princess passengers going there. Many guests came back to say that the beach was too crowded for them to enjoy. Besides, it was a long wait to get on the chairlifts to take the 6-minute ride from the port to the beach.
Many people were taking pictures in front of the big terminal sign.
The plaza was actually very spacious and beautiful.
We had to wait for another 20 minutes before walking to the bus.
Our excursion was to do clear-bottom kayaking and snorkelling at Gumbalimba Park.
Gumbalimba Park sent an air-conditioned bus to pick us up from the port.
The seat had very little leg room on the bus.
This was what we saw on our way to Gumbalimba Park. It’s very different from most places in USA or Canada.
The journey took 45 minutes. The excursion that we chose was clear kayaking & snorkelling at Gumbalimba Park.The park was also famous for its zip line, birds & monkeys but we didn’t have time for those. We paid US$3 to get a locker & started snorkelling right away. The locker was big enough for our duffle bag. We could also leave our water shoes and wallets in it. There was a key that we had to take with us in the water. For hygienic purpose, we always bring our own full-faced snorkelling masks. The ship had those for sales at the photo shop for $60, but they were not made by Tribord like what I have. Mine didn’t steam up easily so it’s very good.
The vendor provided snorkelling gears for free so we just used their fins. Everyone had to wear a life vest. I brought my own aqua socks to wear with the fins. They were very comfortable with non-skid padded soles so I could use them like aqua shoes while kayaking.
DH found some conchs. I quickly posed for a picture before putting them back in the water.
The water was very clear & the 2 guides were very responsible to take care of 15 of us. As I am not a good swimmer, I stayed close to Guide Kenfor & at times I could hold on to the float that he had. There were lots of corals but they were not as colourful as those that we saw in Bora Bora & Tahiti.
We spent about 30 minutes in water before switching to kayaking.
After a 10-minute break, we went kayaking on a 2-person clear bottom kayak. The guide gave us safety tips on kayaking and told us to have the heavier passenger sitting in the front of the kayak.
It was an easy trip to the other beach on West Bay, with a pretty good view of different corals that we didn’t see during snorkelling. It was great to have 2 guides leading and following us, so we knew exactly where to look for the corals. Again we spent about 30 minutes on kayaking, with a 5-minute stop before our return trip.
The guide also took good pictures for us.
There were a few fresh water showers on the beach so we could just use those to rinse off without going to the restrooms. After gathering all our belongings, the guide led us to the waiting area to wait for the minibus to take us back to the ship. We had to wait at the area that says “Bus to Princess” and not to Carnival or Norwegian. That was very well-organized.
On our way back we saw some typical lodgings for the locals.
When we got back, most passengers were on board and the Mahogany Beach looked totally beautiful with hardly anybody there.
Day 4 – August 14, 2018 (Tue) – Dinner at Steamers, Deck 15 Aft
It was good that we booked specialty dining at Steamers for 7 pm, otherwise it would be extremely rushed to eat at our usual dinner time at 5:45 pm. We got back to the ship at 5:30 pm, so we had time to take a shower leisurely.
When we arrived at 7 pm, we were surprised to see how empty it was.
Dinner at Steamers was amazing! The cover charge for an appetizer, a main course & a dessert is $12. To add a lobster tail & king crabs was an additional $10. Here is the menu:
We started with this delicious seafood and fruit appetizer on the house.
The service was excellent. The chowder was yummy. The fried seafood platter was above average but I would recommend paying the extra $10 for the mouth-watering lobster & king crab.
DH &I shared the food & we were so full that we just tasted a little bit of the key lime pie in a jar.
We went to the show by a passionate & energetic entertainer, Nathan Foley, from Australia. He was excellent but I’m not a big fan of Rock & Roll.
We spent the rest of the night at the Lobby Bar on Deck 5 next to the International Cafe. The bartender, Sawat, was awesome & went all the way to Deck 7 to get us nuts even after their closing time at 11 pm. We loved staying at the Piazza late at night as it’s quiet down there, but we could still hear the remote sound of the vocal & piano player singing on Deck 7. Looking forward to Costa Maya tomorrow, our 1st time there.
Day 5 – August 15, 2018 (Wed) – Costa Maya
We had to wake up SOOOO early at 6:30 am because our ship tour met at 8:05 am in the Princess Theatre. We had breakfast at World Fresh Marketplace, then went down to check in & got off the ship right away. The walk from the ship to the tour meeting place was so long. Look!
For those who did not want to walk along the pier, there was a free shuttle like the Disney parking lot tram that you could use, as seen from the picture above. I did not take a picture of the tram, thinking that I would be able to see one when we came back, but there was none in the afternoon. The pier area at Costa Maya was beautiful but it was so hot & humid.
Signage was clear as to where we had to line up for the ship tours.
Under the big hut, there were so many people, lining up for different tours.
Luckily, we didn’t have to wait for too long as our tour had the longest duration so we had to leave right at 8:30 am with a 5-minute walk to the bus.
We boarded a big coach with a bathroom on board.
Day 5 – August 15, 2018 (Wed) – Mayan ruins, Costa Maya, Mexico
Our excursion was about 2 Mayan ruins in the jungle: Kohunlich and Dzibanche.
It took over 2 hours one way to drive to the 1st Mayan ruin, Kohunlich.
Princess gave us a brown bag with a bottle of water, a banana, a chocolate bar & a bag of peanuts for our snack.
As we were entering the jungle, we sprayed a lot of insect repellent on ourselves. It worked well as we didn’t get any mosquito bites at all. My husband paid US$4 to get the license for video-taping. It worked for both ruins for the day. You must have exact change.
This excursion involved almost 5 km of walking & steps climbing. I only climbed to the top of 1 ruin but my husband did all 4 so his legs were all sore & needed a massage on the ship.
The 1st one was the Temple of the Masks. This was relatively easy and there were ropes for us to hold on to. Some workers were doing restoration work there.
Here’s a video showing how I got down from the top & how others climbed up the uneven steps:
Then we walked past many other temples before reaching the Acropolis. Here’s the route we followed:
DH climbed to the top of the acropolis & I just waited for him at the base.
After about 1 hour of walking around, we boarded the bus again. We were given an iced cold bottle of water and a ham & cheese sandwich for lunch.
Before we started the walking tour, we were dropped off at a restroom area that was 2 km away from the site. This ruin had better-preserved buildings than the 1st one.
We first stopped at the Temple of the Captives.
Then we passed by the Temple of Cormorants where workers were doing restoration jobs. We couldn’t climb up this one.
Next we went to the famous Temple of the Owl. Again only my husband climbed to the top but not me.
The last stop was at the Temple of Lintels. This was a big one.
Coming down was a lot harder. It’s better to walk sideways rather than sliding down on the bottom.
On this excursion, I walked for 4.7 km with 7,035 steps. My husband climbed 14 floors of uneven steps. He definitely needed a foot and ankle massage.
I forgot to mention that in Roatan, we DID NOT follow the local time but used the ship time instead for all excursions and all aboard time, so there was 1 couple that didn’t get back on time & the ship’s departure got delayed because them. In Costa Maya and Cozumel, the ship time and the local time were the same.
When we got back to our ship it was 4:30 pm and we had to walk around the maze of shops before getting to the pier.
We walked and turned and walked and finally got to the port gate to do the pier marathon.
There was no free shuttle so some people were complaining about the long walk & there were some who had to take frequent stops to rest.
After taking a shower it was time for dinner. It’s the 2nd formal night (the 1st one was on day 2) so it took me longer to get ready. The escargot was very good but the lobster tail was not half as good as Steamers’. The rice was not well cooked, it’s hard in the centre. Don’t understand how you could go wrong with rice!!
My husband said his Short Ribs were excellent.
The chocolate dessert was amazingly yummy!
After dinner, we went to the new Princess Show, A Fantastic Journey. It was very modern with lots of high tech add-ons, though there was no catchy melody. Then we went to the Piazza for the balloon drop.
We had a few drinks at the Lobby Bar before going to bed.
Day 6 – August 16, 2018 (Thurs) – Cozumel, Mexico
There was not much to write about today as we decided to relax on the ship. We didn’t want to walk around Cozumel or stay on pool deck in the hot & humid weather.
When we woke up, I called the spa to book the $99 Top to Toe special massage for both of us. I added a mini facial for an extra $20. It’s great that we could get lovely Makka again. Both DH & myself loved her hands. We gave her a big extra tip on top of the automatically added gratuity. I had mine at 9:15 am & DH’s was at 10:30 am. There was no one at the spa waiting room when I was there.
I went to have brunch at the World Fresh Marketplace while waiting for DH. After lunch, I went back to the cabin to take a long nap while DH sorted out our Vienna pictures to post on Facebook. When I woke up, DH said he’s hungry so he went to The Salty Dog Grill to get our afternoon snacks. We had those in our cabin.
It’s open seating for dinner so we could go to any dining room but we just went to our set table. I had Scallop & shrimps, it was okay. Then we went out to explore the pier area as it was less hot after dinner.
Carnival Paradisejust started to leave when we were on the pier.
There were free pedicabs going back & forth the pier, but they expected a tip.
There was a ferry leaving for mainland Mexico.
The area was beautiful with the lights.
We bought a few souvenirs.
I went to Del Solto check the price of the sunglasses that I bought in Grand Cayman. All 3ports, Roatan, Costa Maya & Cozumel has the price of $69 but I bought them for $50 so I was very happy.
We spent about 45 minutes at the terminal before walking back to the ship. Beautiful Caribbean Princess looked gorgeous with the lights.
We came back to watch the Mexican Folkloric Festival. The singing was just average, the band was not together & the dancing was repetitive. I’d rather watch the ship’s production shows.
We went to the photo gallery to buy our embarkation picture ($25) before going to Club Fusion to watch the country singer/songwriter Rockie Lynne. The vocal trio was well-harmonized. It was a good 45-minute show.
Then we went to the International Cafe to get snacks & coffee. There were still 5 coffees that we had to use up before the end of this cruise. We were told that once Medallion is on, we won’t be able to use those paper coffee cards any more.
We took our food & drinks to our stateroom and watched the movie “Eddie the Eagle”. That was a great relaxing day!
Day 7 – August 17, 2018 (Fri) – At Sea
I couldn’t believe it’s the last day at sea. Tomorrow we’re going to bid farewell to the beautiful Caribbean Princess.
We woke up just in time to meet our Cruise Critic friends for a 2nd slot pull at the casino.This time we didn’t win. There went our $15.
Before lunch I spent some time in the dining room on deck 5 for the grand 50% off sale &bought 2 swimsuit cover ups for $10 each. Then we went to Steamers for Ramen.
There were lots of ingredients like scallop, shrimp, chicken, mussels, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots to pick, then I added noodles & the waiter added the broth for me. Delicious! I’ll post the Ramen picture again here.
Before I took an afternoon nap, I did the online check in for our flight tomorrow. Then we went up to the Skywalkers’ Elite Lounge to have some snacks.
During tonight’s dinner, the waiters did the Baked Alaska Parade.
The show in the Princess Theatre was very good by the Princess Entertainer of the Year 2018,Tom Franek. He was highly entertaining & had great piano skills with various piano stunts. Since there was nothing much to do, we went to watch him again at 9 pm after packing.
We sent extra tips to our dining room waiter Joseph, Lobby Bartender Sawat & our stateroom attendant Ramon, then we spent the rest of the night at the International Cafe, sitting at The Piazza, writing my blog & listening to the piano player singing at Crooners Bar. There’s still one more coffee on the coffee card for tomorrow. We don’t have to get off the ship till 9:30 am. We have a light blue 5 tag.
This was a fantastic & relaxing cruise. We only did 2 long excursions out of 7 days. Spa treatments were wonderful & I took so many naps! That’s a true vacation!
Day 8 – August 18, 2018 (Sat) – disembarkation
We woke up at 8:15 am. Of course we had docked at Fort Lauderdale and from the balcony we could see the busy trucks transporting passengers’ luggage from ship to the terminal. This time we (port side) docked facing the terminal, not like embarkation that we faced the water.
This was the panoramic view from our balcony:
We vacated our stateroom just before 8 am & went up one deck to have our breakfast at Steamers Seafood. It was another good thing to have a stateroom on Deck 14 (Riviera) as it was easy to walk up one deck to get food and drinks, even with carry-on’s in our hands. Steamers was packed at that time.
During the whole cruise, we never had any problems looking for a table for 2 to eat on deck 15 at any time. After breakfast, we went to the Platinum & Elite disembarkation Lounge on Deck 7 Aft in Club Fusion. It was about half full at 9 am. At the bar they served juice, tea &coffee.
Our luggage tag was Light Blue 5 and we got called at 9:25 am to get off the ship, 10 minutes earlier than the designated time. We remembered that we had to walk to the midship stairs to get off from deck 6. The aft staircase would only take us down to the Palm Dining room but nowhere else. Don’t know why the ship was designed that way. It was very inconvenient to go to the Palm Dining Room for traditional dining as there were only 2 elevators to take you there. I feel sorry for the disabled as they always had to wait for several rounds before they could get in the elevators with their scooters.
I think whoever designed the Princess cruise ships (at least for the Grand, Crown and Caribbean classes) need to take more courses, or Princess should gather guest feedback to understand what the general public like. Another major design mistake is the lack of privacy staying in the mini-suites on deck 9. They are uncovered so everyone from deck 10 & above could see all activities there, plus you can’t enjoy your big balcony when it’s rainy or too sunny. Although I have always stayed in the mini suites, I cursed the balcony every time. It’s not easy to get the very few covered mini-suites on the Emerald deck, as they are cheaper. So this time I’m not paying more to put myself on show. I’ll just bear with the small cubicle for a short 7-day cruise. You could have a glimpse of those Dolphin & Caribe mini-suites in the first picture I posted today. There’s hardly anyone there to enjoy their balcony during the duration of the whole cruise.
Back to our disembarkation, I downloaded the App “Mobile Passport” so we could get to security using the fast lane. At this point only Fort Lauderdale cruiseport plus 24 US airports could use this App to speed up entry to the US.
After we got our luggage at the terminal, we showed the receipts that we used the above App to create, to the port staff so they let us pass through the priority line that says “Mobile Passport”, similar to the Nexus line. It was a breeze as we didn’t have to loop around to go to the front.
We took a taxi that cost $12.50 from port to airport, with tips it’s $15. However, we had to wait for almost an hour before West Jet counters opened up for checkin. It was good that we got our boarding passes online so we could use the shorter line for bag dropoff.
It was easy going through security as the lines were not long. There was no Priority Pass Lounge at Fort Lauderdale so we had to wait at the gate waiting area for almost 2 hours, as our flight was delayed for an hour.
All in all, both DH and myself really enjoyed this cruise as we planned on doing nothing much, so we didn’t really care about what’s happening on the ship. We were there to recharge and relax, to eat and drink, and that was not our cruising style at all. If you read my other trip reports (search “wismergirl” under the “Search Board” tag on the top bar and you’ll see them all), you would know that all my trip days were always packed & I’m always on the go. I’m slowing down to prepare for my retirement!! Soon it will come!