Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Review: Caribbean Princess Canada New England Itinerary

I need to preface this review by saying I did not go on this cruise for the ship or the itinerary. Cruising friends from California and Arizona were sailing together on this cruise and I decided to accept the invitation to join them. Traveling alone, and therefore paying 200% for my cruise fare, I booked the cheapest inside cabin -- my first time in an inside. A bit nervous about that, I figured it was worth the try.

So ... after a joyous reunion with my friends while we waited in the terminal, we boarded the ship just before noon. This ship is huge ... actually, it is the second largest ship I have sailed on, the first being the Star Princess. I easily found my cabin and waiting for me on the bed was a Princess tote bag. I threw it aside but after one day on the ship started to use it regularly ... this ship is BIG and you don't want to have to go back to your cabin for something you need if you can at all avoid it.

My first impression as I explored the ship was that it was just too big. Actually, I hated it. One of my favorite spots on a ship is usually a quiet library and on this ship the library had all of five chairs and was part of the Internet cafe, open to the Atrium. With an inside cabin, I had hoped to find a quiet space somewhere on the ship where I could read and relax. So at first I was not a happy camper.

But then I began to discover things ... like the long promenade deck which, in general, I can spend hours walking on, the chairs out on the promenade deck where I sat reading -- with a light jacket on, and the pool decks which, of course, were pretty empty. Plus, since I had no intention of visiting any of the ports (I live in upstate NY and have visited all the ports on car trips with my husband), on port days I practically had the ship to myself, with quiet seating all over the public areas.

With my friends, we had Anytime seating for dinner. As on the Coral Princess that my husband and I sailed through the Panama Canal, if you want to eat before 8 p.m. you need to get in line by 5:15. The first night we did OK. The second night the dining room filled up with the couple ahead of us, we were given pagers, and that was after waiting 30 minutes in line. At that point we decided to see if we could get into early Traditional dining for the remainder of the cruise and we were lucky they had an empty table for four that they set for the five of us. It was perfect, we had a great waiter and thoroughly enjoyed it. As for the food, the first night or two it was so-so but significantly improved over the week.

Now about the inside cabin: I had no problem with it. I left the bathroom light on at night with the door just ajar. But it was small and what really made me wonder about future use was that this cabin can hold four ... there was a fold down bunk on each wall. The bunks jutted out from the wall about 8 to 10 inches, and the space between the edge of the bed and the wall was so narrow, that I had to bend over the bed and practically walk sideways to get to the head of the bed. There was no room to walk upright. I can't imagine having four people in this cabin. I think I'd even have a problem with my DH of 43 years.

For some brief info about each POC:

Halifax: There is a warehouse on the dock filled with shops. I walked around there, did some shopping, and then went back on the ship. For walkers, though, the city was reachable on foot and some of my little group spent hours wandering.

Saint John: It was pouring during our visit to this city. On the dock was a large tent filled with stalls and I walked and shopped there for a while. Someone who had been to the city before said that a building about 3 blocks away was the start of an indoor mall where you could get to lots of shops without stepping a foot outside. I decided to give it a try and walked the area but was not impressed. However what did interest me was the building I started in housed the local library and I was able to get 60 minutes of free Internet time.

Bar Harbor: We had a beautiful day and I did go ashore, by tender, because I had booked a shore excursion (my one and only) to go whale watching. After wandering around a bit I headed to the meeting point for my excursion only to find out it was cancelled because of rough seas in the area they go to. I was very disappointed. So I wandered some more and then went back to the ship. Just a note that if you plan on having lobster in Bar Harbor, as I heard many people were, it is expensive. Lobster dinners were $25 and up.

Boston: I didn't even step off the ship here. Again, for walkers, the city was within walking distance.

Newport: The weather wasn't great here and this was another tender port. I decided not to go ashore and I seemed to have made the right decision. Unlike Bar Harbor where the tender operation worked so well, for Newport it was an hour round trip. I heard many passengers complaining about the long wait to get off the ship and then to get back on the tender for the return. My friends, who did go ashore, waited 90 minutes to return.

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