Although not a cruise review as such, we had the opportunity to go and visit Princess Cruises’s recently refurbished Caribbean Princess as part of a Bloggers visit on board. Here we got to meet some fellow bloogers, some familiar faces and some new faces and we were given a tour of the ship which included lunch. So, here is our take on the day……..
The day was Friday 30th June. The year was 2017. The cruise line was Princess Cruises and the ship was Caribbean Princess. Ok, ok we’ll stop the epic and over the top sounds short sentences and get on with the review properly.
Caribbean Princess was berthed at the Mayflower Cruise Terminal, berth 106 in Southampton, so the walk from our flat to the ship was a little bit further than what we would have had to have walked if the ship was in berth 46, Ocean Terminal. However, the walk was good and we got a good first glimpse of her and she looked amazing.
Having just booked two cruises with Princess for 2018 and 2019, the visit to Caribbean Princess would further whet our appetite for the Princess brand and we couldn’t wait to embark.
Built in 2004, Caribbean Princess, at 113,000grt, can accomodate 3140 guests in 1556 staterooms (669 with their own private balcony) The ship is recently fresh from an $8.2m refit which saw the installation of 3200 Princess Luxury beds in all staterooms, 63,000 feet of new carpet, 7 new dining venues and an amazing 1000 new digital signs.
Once Jordan (Cruise Capital) and I (Anthony, Cruisemarsh) finally arrived at the terminal, we checked in to get our pass from the crew office and then waited for our party to arrive. As it was fellow bloggers that were visiting the ship too, it was exciting to meet familiar faces and to meet new ones too! Then the team from Princess Cruises media and PR department arrived to meet us (Charlotte, David, Lorraine and Vivien) and it was time to embark the ship.
We embarked the ship on deck 5 and instantly we were greated by the wonderful Piazza, which is the focal and social hub of the ship. We were then split into two groups to explore the ship and to do the exploring, we were going to start up on Lido Deck.
Lido Deck (15) is where the main Neptune and Calypso pools are situated. With good amount of deck space, there is ample areas for lounge beds to enjoy the sunshine. Situated on Lido Deck too are The Slice Pizzeria where you can enjoy a complimentary menu which includes Neapolitian-style pizza; deep dish focaccia with marinara meatballs and cheese. For those looking for the classic hot dog, chilli-dog or tacos with grilled chipotle chicken or sweet potato green chile with loaded fries with chili cheese or bacon and cheese, then the Salty Dog Grill is the place to go. Here you will find the Ernesto burger, which was created by Chef Ernesto Uchimura and consists of rib eye beef patty, grilled pork belly, caramelized kimchi, beer batter jalapeno, aioli and cheese. There is a surcharge for this burger- $5 or $8 when chosen with a beer. Great value indeed!
Moving forward, we went up a deck to deck 17, Sports Deck and moved forward where we went to explore The Sanctuary. This is an adult’s exclusive area where you can relax, chill and forget the fast paced world for a half day or the full day. Passes for The Sanctuary are from $20 for a half day access to the area. Plus loungers and chaise loungers are on offer for guests to relax and unwind on. Guests can also enjoy a soothing massage in one of the two private cabanas from the Lotus Spa services. Exclusive drinks and cocktails are made to order with healthy smoothies, energy drinks and iced flavoured waters on offer too. And to nibble on, there are refreshing fruit skewers, lettuce wrapped spring rolls and spicy tuna pate with baked pita wedges. These are available through the Serenity Stewards who are on hand to make your stay in The Sanctuary as comfortable and relaxing as possible.
Looking down on deck 16, Sun Deck we could the fabulously inviting Lap Pool. Was just calling out to have a swim. Alas, sadly I didn’t bring my swimming shorts with me, otherwise would have gone for a dip!
We then continued the tour down onto deck 16 where we saw the Lotus Spa and the fitness centre. The fitness centre was pretty impressive but hey, I’ve hardly been in one, so I can’t really judge to be fair. Plenty for the fitness fanatic to get their teeth into I guess.
We then moved aft along the ship to see the giant seascreen where the ‘Movies Under The Stars’ showings take place. The screen is situated above the Calypso Bar and pool area and makes quite a commanding sight with the two white columns from the ship’s funnel structure adding decoration. The seascreen is a great thing to have and can be used during the day and at night too. Very versatile.
The next part was really cool, we move even further aft and were able to see the travelator and Skywalkers Night Club for a different perspective. Looking above we could see the height and angle of the travelator better and it looked so cool. It was quite a commanding piece of structure and would give good amount of shade for those swimming in the Terrace Pool.
It was then time for lunch! Yay! The hunger was getting the better of me… well, that’s not true but we were on board and as tradition states, the law of the sea means you have to visit the buffet. This is where we would spend our lunchtime. Formerly known as Horizon Court, the buffet area was given a considerable change when the ship was in for refit and it now known as World Fresh Marketplace. Situated on deck 15 aft on both the starboard side, this buffet area has been transformed in a wonderful area of food stations with plentiful amount of food on offer including a carvery with the roast of the day, pancake station, salad bar and if you are a sweet tooth, a generious selection of desserts on offer. Unfortunately we didn’t take any photos of the food we had, it was too good to stay on the plate for any length of time but what I did have was Roast beef, mashed potato and casserole and brocolli. Dessert was a Grand Marnier flavoured cream horn and Red Velvet cake. Oh my, it was so delicious.
Also there is casual evening speciality restaurants that have been added to Caribbean Princess. On the port side, there is Steamers Seafood and on the starboard side there is Planks BBQ. Whilst they are buffets during breakfast and lunch and is complimentary during these times, the venues then become waiter served venues in the evening with a cover charge of $12 per person. Steamers Seafood offers a wide selection of seafood including mussels , scallops, clams, prawns and crab-stuffed flounder. For an extra $10 more, you can choose King Crab Legs or lobster tail. Planks BBQ offer family-size planks of loaded ribs, beef, sausages and chicken with also a serving of sides including fries, chilli, coleslaw and dill pickles. Just makes my mouth water at the sound of the selections.
Next it was up to Star/Sky Deck, decks 18 and 19 for the Skywalkers Nightclub. This has a rather unusual and cool way to get to and from the nightclub. It has it’s own travelator! How cool is that?! From here, you are whisked upto the nightclub which has panoramic views out of almost floor to ceiling windows. From here you can dance and party the night away and what a venue to do so in.
It was then time to move down to deck 7, Promenade. This is one of main decks on the ship which also has outside access to the promenade deck. We started aft at Club Fushion and made our way forward, visiting venues such as the photo gallery, Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria, Wheelhouse Bar, Explorers Lounge and then out into main Piazza area which houses Crooners Bar and Essence. Going further forward, we saw Calypso Cove before entering the Grand Casino. Forward from the casino was the Princess Theatre. A venue which holds around 800 guests, this is where the evening shows take place, from production shows to comedians and variety acts.
After departing the Princess Theatre, it was then down to deck 6, Fiesta Deck. From here, we visited Churchill’s Lounge. One of the very few places you can smoke in (Casino being the other venue) on the ship, it’s the first thing that hits you as you enter, the smell of stale smoke. Not very nice. The size of the lounge was pretty small so therefore the impact of the smoking will be greater.
We proceeded then to visit the Crown Grill, which is one the speciality restaurants on board Caribbean Princess. Here you can enjoy the experience of a premium American Steakhouse all for the cover charge of $29 per person. Sumptious offerings include Grilled Tiger Prawns in Whisky, Chilli & Garlic Marinade, Sterling Silver Beef Chop 16 oz Blackened with Mushrooms and Onions or the tantalising Filet Mignon 8 oz served with Potato and Garden Fresh Vegetables. If you are not too stuffed from that offering there are also desserts available for the sweet tooth.
Then it was down to deck 5, Plaza Deck and the end of the tour…..awww!
We met by Vines Bar with the other group and were handed lovely Princess Cruises bags with a press pack and a power bank in it. Very nice. We then headed to the centre of the Piazza for a group photo and to wish Charlotte Humphrey all the very best as it was her last day working for Princess Cruises.
Then it was just time to grab a few more photos and was time to disembark. We handed in our passes to the crew passport and then said goodbyes to the Princess Cruises Media team and our fellow bloggers and then left for home. What a day it was, absolutely fantastic!
Caribbean Princess is a beautiful ship with great amount of space, light and tasteful decor. She oozes class and I could have just stayed on board. The layout is easy to follow and will be easy for those new cruisers adjusting to their new surroundings. Having been on her fleetmate Emerald Princess last year, this was a lot better than her, both in the decor and the actual ship. We were disappointed with Emerald but Caribbean has stolen our hearts. The recent refit has added vitality too and the World Fresh Marketplace is such a wonderfully designed buffet area and a big thumbs up to those who worked hard bring it all together in the refit.
There was a warm and friendly feeling about the ship as soon as I stepped on board and felt completely at easy. I can see why she is a popular ship and I wouldn’t argue against sailing on her. Would happily do so. Unfortunately, she is only here for one more season (this summer) before heading for the Caribbean next year. She will be a big miss to the UK here and hopefully one day she will return to these waters again. With Royal Princess returning for a season next year, that might soften the blow somewhat.
As this is just a ship visit review, it’s hard to give it a full review so I am only just going to give it a rating out of 10.
So, we think Caribbean Princess is worth: 8/10
Fantastic ship, great layout, good food and service. Piazza perhaps not as grand looking as Emerald Princess and Royal Princess but I’m now just splitting hairs. To really give it a full review, I would need to sail on her. So, if any of the Princess Cruises Media team are reading this review…….. haha, only joking. Perhaps we will sail on her though in the future, I’d really hope so.
Well, until next summer when we sail on Sapphire Princess, we have had our taste of Princess Cruises for this year and really enjoyed it very much…..
So all it remains for me to say is, thank you Princess Cruises and Princess Cruises Media UK for having us on board yesterday afternoon. Thank you to our fellow bloggers too, was great to meet you all. Was a brilliant day…..
Now, it’s back to my baked beans on toast for dinner. Wish me luck!